Thursday, July 31, 2014

Romancing the Stone

When I was about 10, I received a trunk full of romance novels as a gift. My great uncle had been told I was an avaricious reader, and somewhere in his travels between his California home and mine in New York he managed to score a trunk full of books- probably at a yard sale. Even though they might have been slightly inappropriate for a child my age, this huge gift began my love affair with the most popular genre in print. Since then, I've stretched my literary interests into every other genre, but romance novels are to me the comfort food of the reading world. I return to them again and again, even though I'm now old enough and jaded enough to have picked out several major flaws. Here's a list of a few of those flaws.
I call it "How romance novels are full of shit":

1. The couple always manages to overcome every obstacle. In the real world, love doesn't conquer all. Love doesn't even conquer most, which is why the divorce rate for first time marriages is at nearly half, and climbs higher still for second and each consecutive marriage after that. But in romance novels, there's always a major problem, and it's always overcome by the power of love.

2. Speaking of major problems, there's never smooth sailing. How many of us would seriously pursue a relationship if we had to literally scale mountains or change the ocean's tide in order to be with a person we'd barely gotten to know but found ridiculously attractive? A giant part of Husband's appeal for me was that his shit was mostly all huddled together in a corner and the life we would share would be calm and smooth with little need for drama or antics. Obviously we argue and fight, but neither of us had to protect the other from an evil villain, fend off a crazy and dangerous psychopathic killer, or in any other way save the world.

3. Saving the world, while required, is only ever done by the hero.  Can we please talk for a minute about how no matter how strong the heroine that's been written into a story is, the hero somehow still manages to save her, all while being, well, heroic? She's a cop/firefighter/some other noble and heroic profession? Obviously he's going to be bigger, stronger, calmer, and appreciate what she does while still managing to take care of her. No hero is ever an accountant, or an out of work actor, or living in his parents' basement while working on a screenplay. The dude is never just an average guy living an average life.

4. Neither of them are ever unattractive to mainstream society. There are no romance novels about troll-like men or ghastly women. Which is unfortunate, because we all know not every person in this world has an intriguing and sexy mole above their full pouty lip, or a strong, firm jaw with muscular abs. I firmly believe there's a lid for every pot. That doesn't mean we all see our partner as the sexiest man (or woman) alive. Some people settle for less than what their ideal physical type is because you know, looks aren't everything. Some people are genuinely more attracted to taller or heavier to thinner or shorter or whatever type isn't currently being called sexy by modern society. Other people become more attracted to their partner over time because they have an amazing personality or a fantastic sense of humor. Still, in romance novels there's always an immediate and visceral attraction that just isn't realistic.
5. Every romance novel couple's sex life is all amazing, all the time.  Forget how similar every sex scene actually is- how many different euphemisms for penis, vagina, and breasts are there, after all? But there's never one partner with a higher libido, never any sexual dysfunction, never any dissatisfaction with an encounter. No one in a romance novel ever just has sex because their partner wants sex, there's never a quickie that leaves much to be desired, nobody ever gets bored halfway through and starts mentally planning a grocery list, there's no whiskey dick or period blood to deal with. It's always tab a fitting into slot b through either missionary or woman on top earth-shattering sex where the partners either reach climax simultaneously or the man holds his orgasm off until right after the woman has her own, and she always does, most often more than once. This standard alone is impossible to achieve, let alone the rest of the impossible issues with romance novels.

Beyond all of the above, the thing that gets to me the most about romance novels is the lack of planning for the future- well that and the lack of farting. We're left with a couple of people declaring their undying love for one another with no real plan about how they're going to actually manage to make it work. The happily ever after is always implied, with no thought to the fact that these people are going to have to live together.

Do we love romance novels because they're so completely at odds with the mundane everydayness of our lives? Do we not come to expect flowers for no reason and men to save us from whatever impossibilities the world throws at us? Do we not, in some small part of our inner selves, compare our men and women to those written neatly into perfect stereotypical categories, and find ourselves and our partners lacking? Do we not wonder why the earth fails to shatter every single time we have sex?

There's a lot of talk about reality in the media and how impossible standards are setting the tone for our children, daughters especially. Yet we turn, collectively, most often to literature that sets a completely impossible standard for ourselves and no one complains about how unrealistic it is.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Take my hand, we're halfway there

Today is the 211th day of the year. More importantly, we've reached the halfway mark of summer vacation. This milestone is important because as many of you might have guessed, hanging out with kids all day really cramps my style of reading, pretending to do housework, binge-watching completely child-unfriendly shows, and just generally enjoying the quiet.
I know, I know, the monkeys in my house are all half-grown, and they shouldn't need my attention every second. And they actually don't. But the minute I start doing something, one of them does, and in case you were unaware, they make a lot of noise. Like, a lot. And I can't stand cleaning with people around. Even young people who could be put to work to make the process go faster.
So now that we're halfway there (there being the start of school, or as I like to think of it, the best day ever) I'm taking stock of our summer thus far. And, really, I'm coming up short.
I haven't really done much with the kids. Sure, we've skated outside and gone swimming and geocaching some. But the weather has kept us indoors for most of the summer. That is, I tell them it's going to rain every day and therefore our tentative plans must be canceled. I'm batting about .500 as far as that goes, so they haven't really caught on to my nefarious scheme yet. Mostly I'm just an indoor person who doesn't people very well.
My life would be a lot more convenient if I was one of those people who found genuine enjoyment in children. In fact, considering, it would be fan-fucking-tastic. Since that isn't the case, all I can do is congratulate myself on having survived half of the summer. The second half should be much easier to get through, knowing the end is in sight.
I was thinking about this the other day, and I really feel like I got shafted in the divorce lottery. The only good thing about being divorced (well, other than not being married to a giant douchecanoe anymore) should be the regular break you get from your kids.
However, because I'm divorced from someone who's an even bigger parenting fail than I am (yes, it is actually possible), I don't get to send my kids off every other weekend and for three hours on Wednesdays. Which means they're with me 100% of the time.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm only halfway decent at being a stay at home mother when the children don't also stay at home.
Just knowing I'm not enjoying every precious squabble, every mess left for me to clean up, every blatant disregard for simple rules sort of makes me feel guilty. I've a friend who'd love to have children, but for various reasons does not. Bitching to her about kids makes me feel, well, like a horrid bitch who can't find it in her to enjoy what others would kill for.
But if I can't be real here, where can I?
I'm not a people person. And kids? They're just newer people.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Birthday Blues

For my next trick, I'll teach you how to ruin someone's birthday.
Husband celebrated his birthday last week. Normally, I'd say we celebrated Husband's birthday, and I guess technically we did, only not with him.
Let me explain.
Generally, in our house when there's a birthday, the person aging by a year chooses a meal and a type of cake. Since Husband doesn't typically eat dinner with us, I chose the meal for him. Well actually, the ingredients I had on hand were the deciding factor.
Not such a big deal because he wasn't going to eat it anyhow and I still made his choice of cake. He didn't specify an ice cream flavor, so I just grabbed a random carton that looked good at the time. He's not picky, or he'd have made his wishes known, right?
So the cake's made, dinner's been eaten, the ice cream is all icey and creamy in the freezer, and still, Husband isn't awake yet. The kids are begging for their treat like it's their collective birthday, and finally he awakens just in time to be harangued by everyone about eating the damn cake.
He's awake but not yet out of bed when everyone goes traipsing into our room like it's Grand Central Station. As an aside, I have serious issues wit kids in my bedroom. Husband has no such issues, so when he's home it's like the damn family room and when he's gone it's like Fort Knox because they have their own freaking rooms and while Husband will go hang with them in their rooms as well, I find this behavior bizarre and think we should all just stay out of each other's bedrooms. But that's another topic.
The kids leave our bedroom, and I'm bringing him coffee and we're chatting, and he says "You guys might as well go ahead and eat the cake without me." I'm all "Are you kidding me? It's your birthday cake." and we laugh and he doesn't tell me he's kidding.
This, my friends, is where the problem starts.
You see, I can be very sarcastic but I also have a problem with not being able to understand sarcasm coming from others. I'm like, deficient in catching unspoken clues. Tone of voice, body language and whatever other nonverbal clues normal people use to communicate with others are completely lost on me. If you want me to pick up on something, being subtle about it isn't going to net you the results you're looking for.
So Husband told me to serve the cake without him, and while I thought he was an insane person, I still went ahead and served the cake without him.
For the record, he was kidding, ate his cake alone, and we both ended the night feeling pretty damned bad- him because it was like an un-birthday, and me because I ruined his birthday.
I'm a terrible wife.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dream a Little Dream

I woke up at 2am sobbing uncontrollably. Was I injured, sick or recovering from some real-life trauma? Oh, no. I was bawling my eyes out simply because of a dream.
This could be reasonable- I'm surrounded by monkeys and have an extended family. Sometimes we dream of calamity striking someone we love, right? Not this time.
Instead, I dreamt of a hawk that I'd attempted to rescue. Some jackeen was fucking with my rescue bird which was actually quite ugly, and this caused me to cry.
In my dream, I walked into a house that was vaguely familiar but not actually known to me, and was confronted by baby animals all penned up and crying. Tiny little fuzzy sheep, adorable goats, a couple of bunnies, and some sweet little downy ducklings all needed, in my mind, to be freed from their inhumane cages and set free in the pastures and ponds that handily, I happened to have ready for them.
As I freed them, there was a sense of urgency, as it was somehow imperative that my task be complete before their captors returned to find me loosing the menagerie.
So I'm hastily opening pens and herding the animals outside when I come upon an injured hawk, whose been fitted with a breastplate of feathers as it'd lost its own. Its wings were also comprised of makeshift prosthetics which, as far as I could tell, involved gluing plastic feathers to the hawk's wing bones, which were exposed. Even though this bird was obviously in no condition for the wild, it became my mission to release it from its tiny cage, to a safer and more humane rehabilitation facility.
As dreams are wont to do, this one left no shortage of impossibilities that were magically plausible, and somehow there was a nearby wildlife rescue where the hawk could recuperate in peace, if only I could get him there.
Enter the villain. This man came upon my attempts at playing savior and under the guise of being helpful actually started to tear what few feathers my hawk had left off in a sort of singsong-y he loves me, he loves me not manner.
I became inconsolable and starting fighting against the ma, scooping up each feather and putting it back on my hawk's fake breastbone and asking the man very politely to please allow me to handle the bird, which until this point had been very docile and allowed my ministrations.
Now, of course, it was getting riled up and becoming increasingly more agitated.
I've never been near a hawk, injured or otherwise, but at least in my dreams, they're quite ferocious when injured and provoked, and my hawk tried btiing this man and clawing him, but was too weak to actually do any damage. The attempt, it seemed, only made him weaker. 
So now I'm distraught, fighting for the hawk who was powerless to fight for himself, and trying to get the man gone without agitating the bird even more.
This started the flow of tears, but I really started bawling hard when I realized I was waking up and would therefore be unable to know if I managed to successfully save him or not.
That's right. In my sleep-hazed brain, it made sense that I'd be so upset that my imaginary hawk wasn't saveable because I woke up and realized it was imaginary.
Since husband works nights, all I could do was text him the basics of my dream and try to calm myself down. He offered to make a "hug run" on his lunch, but even traumatized and half awake, I realized how silly I was being. There was no hawk. There was no villainous hawk tormentor. I didn't need to save a nonexistant hawk from a nonexistent man and certainly shouldn't be crying- not because of the dream, but because it was a dream.
Brains, man. They're whack.
I looked up what dreams about birds mean, and they supposedly represent your hopes, goals, and aspirations. Now, I'm no expert, but an injured to the point of death hawk doesn't seem to be a good symbol for my goals, really.
It seems my subconscious is either telling me that my wishes are a hopeless, dead in the water cause, in need of so much life support I might as well just give up, or that whole interpreting your dream thing is a bunch of nonsense and I shouldn't internet anymore.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Teen angst

Parents of teens have a whole different set of worries than parents of any other age group. And worse, they know they're less powerful, which means, obviously, that their children are at greater risk than any other children.
Most of the parenting blogs I read talk about mischievous toddlers and growing gradeschoolers. Very few of the blogs I frequent talk about the trials of teengers.
I have a couple of theories about why this is so, but the foremost idea is that the parents of teenagers have all been driven crazy, both by their children's behavior and also by the constant, nagging worry that it's going to get worse, and therefore don't have time to talk about the struggle.
Because actually? It does get worse.
In addition to raging hormones and snotty attitudes and an overwhelming sense of entitlement that parents of teens are dealing with, there's also the normal fears: they'll get sick or injured, have issues with bullying or problems within their peer groups, have trouble in school, or trouble adjusting to life's curveballs. Then there's also the fears and worries that come on once kids reach a certain age: drugs and drinking, sex, peer pressure, teaching them responsibilty, allowing them a certain amount of freedom, and just generally trying to convert them from the natural assholes that kids are into something slightly less.
Don't think kids are assholes? You've either drunk too much Kool-Aid or haven't been around any teenagers yet. But wait, your time will come.
The real trouble isn't actually with the new set of worries. Those worries could easily be managed if only we could all lock our children up, homeschool them, take away their communication devices, and bar their windows for the next seven to ten years.
Unfortunately, I'm informed that this isn't a viable option.
Not only can we not imprison them for their own safety, we must also be teaching them independence, as they're only a few short years away from doing whatever the hell they want without needing or even wanting our approval or guidance.
I spend the majority of my time- well, whatever's left after settling squabbles about whose turn it is to do the dishes or sit in the front seat or who left the milk out- the majority of the rest of my time is spent encouraging these kids to make their own choices, and helping them see which ones are good and which ones get them grounded.
I'm not raising kids. I have kids. I'm raising people. And these people, young as they are, have all realized at some point or another that I don't have one frigging clue about what I'm doing. Parenting books focus on keeping babies alive and teaching toddlers not to bite.
Very few people talk about how to tell your child she can't wear a certain item of clothing without slut shaming her. Don't understand that struggle? You've never had a headstrong young woman on your hands whose body has developed far more quickly than her brain, who can't understand why leggings and a crop top aren't appropriate for twelve year olds to wear to her uptight Christian school. Or anywhere. There's a fine line between giving her a reason that doesn't start and end with "Because I said so" and shaming her about her body- something she has no control over, and something you want to encourage her to feel good about, no matter what she wears.
But the world? It's a scary place, and while I'm prepping these monkeys to be let loose in it, I'm also striving to keep them safe from it, for just a little while longer.
At the same time, I have to ensure that they don't grow up to be part of the danger. Sure, at some point I'll not hold myself responsible for their actions, but for right now? Everything they do is because of me, or the other adult influences in their lives.
They learn much more from watching us than they do from my near-constant nagging.
Which is precisely why parenting them is so much harder. They're sneaky, you see. Skulking around listening to conversations that don't involve them, watching me text while driving even as I pass a sign that tells them death is imminent if they participate in such risky behavior, seeing me sneak a cookie when they're supposed to be in bed.
Teens, let's face it, don't listen to half of what we say. But unlike with younger kids who sort of follow rules and have regular bedtimes and can be fooled into believing we're nearly perfect, teens are also aware enough of their surroundings to call us out on all that bullshit.
They see our flaws, they notice our mistakes, and they're not shy about bringing this knowledge to our attention. So not only do we know we're just people who fail at a good many things, but we know they know.
The whole business is enough to drive a person to madness.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Social Media for the Socially Inept

Most of the time, I'm bad at being a people. In person, this is especially true, as when faced with another human I tend to become a giant shitshow.
Stuttering, stammering, sweating profusely, and internally freaking out that my hair/face/clothes/makeup/shoes/teeth/breath/weird hand movements are all working against me to turn me into a freak. You know, because freaking out hasn't already done that. Externally, I know I must look like I have at least some of my shit together, as people trust me with their children and money. If there's one thing I know people don't trust others with easily, it's their money.
Unlike the majority of people, for me small, intimate gatherings are the absolute worst. Because nothing about me can be normal, I handle public speaking remarkably well, and actually prefer it to having a conversation with another person. Of course, what I really prefer is to not have to interact with other people in real time at all.
Enter social media.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, blogging, even texting all allow me to respond to people in my time, after having carefully chosen my tone of voice and the words I'll use. There's no one looking at my facial features or checking my body language for clues. All a person has to go on are my words.
You'd think, giant ball of narcissism that I am, that I'd revel in and enjoy the spotlight. And I do. Only not in person and not with people I can actually see.
Public speaking only works for me because I'm in charge of whether or not my audience reacts. There's this unspoken code of conduct that requires a group of people who are being addressed by one person to hold their counsel unless and until invited to do otherwise. I simply never invite them, and luckily, at least so far, no one really breaks the code because the rest of the world has better manners than I do.
I can't imagine living in any other era. I rely so heavily on my internet-connected devices to communicate with any and everyone that I truly can't imagine having to actually interact with other people face to face. The very thought of having to make individual phone calls if there's a scheduling change makes my palms sweat.
This is why getting a new comment or like or twitter follower- or even better- engaging in a conversation with another person via some type of online media is so thoroughly enjoyable for me. First, there's the human interaction everyone needs- even me, even though I don't want to actually see or hear any humans. Then there's the narcissism that kicks in, telling me I'm obviously beautiful and smart and funny if someone else takes the time to comment or respond. Clearly this makes life worth living.
It's quite the dichotomy: my desire to be left alone mashing up against my desire for outside forces to validate my very existence. I'd say I'm not alone in it, but frankly, I wouldn't know, as I tend not to talk to strangers. Or friends. Or the mailman.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Crazy at Any Cost

I'm batshit insane. I would like to believe the monkeys drove me to it, but sadly, I was certifiable long before they even existed. The real difference is that now, I'm medicated for their protection. And, I suppose, my own.
Today I picked up my monthly ration of crazy pills and forked over $50 for the copays and started thinking about how the hell the un- or underinsured manage. While it's annoying to me that I have to pay anything at all to keep from drooling in the corner, the fitty smackeroos doesn't break my bank, and in the end is a small price to pay.
If Husband's insurance didn't cover the bulk of the cost?
Whole different ballgame, my friends.
My weekly therapy sessions cost $150. My monthly psychiatrist appointment is another $175. I'm on three medications. One is only $130. Another is generic, so it's only $50. The third is $998.99. So for the bargain basement price of nearly 2k, I manage to function well enough to be left alone for short periods of time.Obviously, insurance covers the bulk of all of this, and I thank my lucky stars it does, even as I'm annoyed that my crazy effects my wallet at all.
But without the insurance? I'd go untreated. Which means the monkeys would
go unfed, the house would go even more uncleaned, and basically, my life would be an even bigger shitshow than it is now.
What this has made me think about isn't necessarily what my own life would be like without insurance, and not because I think Husband couldn't possibly lose his job or that there's no chance I'd ever have to go without again, because trust me, I'm a champion worrier who always, always, always thinks of the worst possible case scenario. Twice.
For once my incredible narcissism has stepped aside so that I could think about how something might effect people who aren't me. 
Forget the stigma of even seeking help for mental illness-which is huge, by the way- the cost of treatment is simply too high for a large group of people. The same people who so desperately need mental health care- therapy and/or medications- are also often unemployable or severely underemployed.
Without income, there's no insurance. Government subsidized insurance isn't available to everyone, and often doesn't cover the cost of reliable, appropriate treatment, so they simply go without.
I'd have to, if Husband didn't have such rocking insurance.
Without turning this into a discussion about anything else, how many people self-medicate with illicit drugs or alcohol? How many turn to crime? How many simply give up and self-terminate?
I recognize that I'm crazy. I also seek and receive treatment because being bananas isn't actually any fun at all. But as crazy people go, I realize I'm a pretty damned lucky one, and for that I'm eternally grateful.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Talk Derby to Me

Somehow or other, this person who doesn't particularly enjoy people or parents or children or sports is now co-coaching a junior roller derby team. This happens because I enjoy incompetence even less and have an uncanny inability to ever say no when presented with a request to do something way out of my scope of expertise.
Of course, that's not a difficult feat, as anything beyond being snarky on the sidelines of monkey football/baseball/volleyball/basketball games, eating way too much sugar while drinking way too much coffee, and reading while studiously ignoring housework is beyond my scope of expertise.
However, apparently I fake having my shit together fairly well, because this is the second time I've been asked to help coach a child's sport. The first time ended a burgeoning friendship (have I mentioned incompetence is a major turn off?) and netted a second place trophy in the only competition the team participated in. I have super high hopes this time around.
First, I went into it with zero expectations for friendship. It helps that I didn't know a single soul when I signed my monkeys up to participate. Of course, I also had only a basic grasp of roller derby's rules, could barely skate myself, and had never coached on my own. But why should that stop me?
Google, if you've been living under a rock and therefore didn't realize, can fix everything.
Need to know coaching skills, drills, etiquette, tips, tricks, and secrets? Google it.
Want to improve camaraderie amongst these children who don't know each other and haven't learned to work as a team? Google it.
Wonder how to politely inform parents they're behind on their dues? Google it.
It's been several months now, and I've got a good grasp on the rules and my role as a coach. The kids are playing better and learned each and every time I see them. They also give every appearance of having fun, which I think someone said once was the idea behind kids sports, although I personally think the idea should be to play hard and win big, but that's a post for another time.
What Google, even with all its power, hasn't been able to tell me is how to learn to enjoy myself. Derby days bring terror sweat, inflamed bowels, raging headaches, and memory loss. I panic at the thought of interacting with all these short people who are prone to random acts of hugging. And the parents? That's even worse because I know how judgey I am, and can only assume everyone else is just as adept at secretly thinking I'm incompetent and out of control.
Which is how this whole mess even got started- I recognized the incompetent nature of my predecessor and mentioned it to someone who had the power to put my dumb ass in charge of the whole shebang.
Even as terrified and panic-stricken as I am about doing the derby, I'm even more territorial and possessive now that I have this amazing power.
Joke. There's no power. Just my name on a bankbook and my face in front of all these strangers.
I am, however, possessive of this team, primarily because I'm proud of the progress I see in them and knowing I had some small part in that makes my narcissistic little heart go pitty pat.
Also, it's clear to everyone that I'm doing a much better job than the person who came before me, and they tell me so. Again, my ego likes the stroking enough to make it worth explosive diarrhea and cold sweats.
It's all about pros and cons and finding the balance. Something I'm clearly excelling at.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Happy Camper

I dropped my son off at basketball camp the other day, and came away feeling dirty, alarmed, and ashamed. Let me explain.
This monkey is the oldest of all of our monkeys and also it seems, the least ready to eventually face the real world. Allow me to demonstrate how I've reached this conclusion.
When I told him to grab a pillow, for instance, he brought his pillow down, sans case, and thought that was acceptable. Now, I don't know about you, but I find that I'm skeeved out by the thought of my sweaty, nearly grown child sleeping for even one night without a pillow case, but sending him off to camp with a naked pillow seems especially wrong. Like the parenting police will come and revoke my "I'm capable of keeping humans alive" card. Because let's face it, I don't really deserve a "good parenting" trophy or even merit a "halfway decent" consolation ribbon. But I do, generally, manage somehow to keep the horde alive.
So, ok. I hand him a fresh pillow case and we head off. As slightly alarming as knowing he was perfectly willing to sleep without a protective cover on his pillow for a week was, nothing could prepare me for what the day would bring.
We arrive at camp registration and he signs in. They hand him a key, and tell us where the dorms are. (This camp was at a local college.) I head into the adjoining room to finalize the medical and official paperwork, and he heads back out to the car. Fine. Except on my way out, one of the registrants hails me, telling me he forgot to actually take the key they handed him. So, back in he goes, alarming me to the fact that my key deposit will never be seen again, and my child may well spend several nights sleeping in the hallway due to his inability to enter a room with a key he's already lost within the first five minutes of being at camp.
We eventually find the right door to the building and then the right floor. He gets turned around following the signs clearly posted on the walls (by this point, I'm conducting a scientific experiment whereby I'm not helping him survive in the wilderness), and finally he finds his room.
Then the fun begins.
This is an old school building. The locks aren't fancy magnetic swipe locks, there's no thumbprint and retinal scan necessary to gain entrance. It's a simple insert key into hole and turn type device. Maybe that was the problem- such low tech apparatus are not customary for this generation. Or maybe my particular monkey is simply inept. Either way, he struggles for at least a full minute with fitting the key into the lock.
He eventually manages to make it work, and we enter the room, where his roommate had already been and left one of the beds neatly made with matching sheets and a turned down quilt. My own offspring? Tossed everything he was carrying onto the bed, turned to me, and said "Bye."
Really, kid? You don't feel the need to make your bed, put your single backpack containing a week's worth of clothes and hygiene supplies somewhere other than in the middle of your unmade bed, or even thank your mother for her time and trouble, not to mention the expense of sending your ungrateful ass to camp?
Clearly, I'm doing a stellar job at mothering if my child can't be bothered with even the slightest degree of politeness. Never mind unending declarations of love, all I really want is a thank you and a handshake.
But alas, that was not to be from my most sullen, surly offspring. In fact, there's no doubt in my mind he didn't even consider the possibility.
So, I replied with "Bye." right back, then forced him to hug me, told him to have a good time and that I loved him, and walked away, feeling distinctly as if I'd thrown my eldest child directly into the lion's den.
By some insane miracle, he appeared none the worse for wear when I returned days later to retrieve him, and against all odds, he somehow hadn't lost his key, and therefore my deposit was, in fact, returned to me.
Color me surprised.
I'm figuring the lesson here was that sometimes it's ok to let your child sink or swim. Especially if that child will be considered an adult in just over two years, capable of dying in combat or given the power to elect government officials.
While a little part of me may very well have felt just slightly guilty, leaving such an obviously incompetent person in charge of his own welfare without my presence serving as a safety net, ready to catch him should calamity strike, the rest of me was like "meh."
It was a semi-controlled environment, for one thing. And he's more than half grown and really needs to be able to figure shit out on his own, for another.
I may not be given any awards for the way I participate in the raising of this flock of monkeys, but when you consider my end goal is to have them turned into productive and moral human beings by the time they fly the nest, all that really matters is that somehow or other, he managed to survive a week at camp without me there reminding him to brush his teeth and take his contacts out.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Hold the Door

This morning I dropped our car off at the dealership for the third time in two weeks. It's not falling apart as the number of trips to be repaired might suggest. No, each of these trips happened to be for the same repair, which hasn't yet happened.
The first time they told me what it needed, and that the warranty would cover it, but that I'd need to come back, as they didn't have the part in stock. Ok. That's reasonable, even though I'd been waiting for nearly three hours.
The second time, I had an 8:30am appointment. After hauling ass to drop a monkey off at soccer camp, I rushed to make it to the dealership in time, and then sat and waited. Nearly four hours later, when it was time to pick the same monkey back up from camp, I approached the service department to discover that not only was my vehicle's repair not finished but it hadn't even begun yet.
So I made another appointment, this time verifying that there'd be a loaner for my use while my own car got fixed.
I dropped it off and left in the loaner that was very similar to my car- so similar in fact that my completely unobservant monkeys didn't even realize it wasn't our van. Everything was going well- I wasn't stuck at the dealership all day, I could run errands, and the loaner looked at home parked in the driveway.
Sure, the windsheild's cracked. Ok, the exhaust is loud. And the check engine light is on, the right turn signal doesn't actually work, and the gas tank was empty when I got in. But other than those little things, it runs and it's temporary.
After a morning puttering around the house and make my grocery list, I headed out to the grocer's, content that the loaner would work fine for errand running even if I was slightly ashamed to be seen in it.
Everything was running smoothly until I came out of the store with a cart full of frozen items and attempted to open the back door of the van. Minivans, most of you will recognize, have large sliding back doors. This particular car's door is apparently broken, something I was not warned about when I was handed the keys.
Now, there's broken and then there's broken.
This door is so broken that once opened, it promptly fell directly off the car and nearly onto my sandal-clad feet.
Yeah, picture that for a moment. I'm pulling the handle with one hand while holding the cart still with the other, so my body's contorted, angled away from the van, but between it and the cart. Suddenly, I'm standing there slack-jawed as the door slides off the rails and onto the ground, my hand on the handle the only thing keeping it from crashing all the way down and onto my feet.
This happened, only more dramatically.
I jumped back a little as if I was doing some sort of ragtime dance in an attempt not to have my toes crushed and looked around frantically for help.
Luckily, there was a car full of men just a few spaces over who heard my plaintive pleas for assistance and came to my rescue. Because the three of them couldn't get it, either, another man who just happened to be walking by also came to my aid.
Between the five of us (ok, four of them and me wringing my hands extremely helpfully) we managed to get the door back on and latched and locked and I made a mental note not to ever open that door again under penalty of death. Or crushed toes.
What I've learned from this experience is that A) a dealership who can't even keep their own cars in good repair probably isn't who I want fixing mine, B) strangers can be very kind and C) there's no such thing as full disclosure.
Also, the fact that this even happened is bananas. Like, something from a Rom-Com, only not nearly as funny in real life.
Also, I'm counting down the minutes until my own van is parked back in my driveway and I can be rid of this beastly car that tried to kill me.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Resting Bitch Face

Before the internet went bananas and made a thousand memes about Resting Bitch Face, those of us who actually have a naturally bitchy look about our visages were sitting over here, looking like we hate everything.
You know what I'm talking about, naturally happy-looking people. You've all seen someone who just looked like a massive bitch. Odds are, they weren't, although some of us can totally be when the need arises. Or just because.
If I had a dollar for every time someone told me to smile, or cheer up, or asked me what was wrong, I'd never have to send Husband off to work again. Sadly, I don't have a dollar for each such occurrence, so Husband will be slaving away until our lottery numbers get picked. Meanwhile, I'm sick to death of hearing that I look miserable. If you all think people with RBF don't know they have it, you're sadly mistaken.
That little tragedy notwithstanding, what really grinds my gears is knowing I look like I'm pissed off at the world and being powerless to prevent it, which only causes more people who sort of know me from the Monkeys' school events but have no actual idea who I am when I'm not pretending to be a good parent to express their concern over my normal face. 
Ok, sure, I could walk around with a forced permagrin, but trust me, that shit gets old.
I know because I tried it for a few minutes the other day.
The upside is that I don't have to worry about tricking strangers into thinking I'm a nice person who gives two shits about whatever inappropriate thing people overshare with strangers. People who don't know me don't often talk to me. Since I'm anti-human, Resting Bitch Face actually works in my favor here. 
I just wish the rest of the world would shut up about it already and let me look like an asshole in peace. But then, I'm bananas, so what do I know?