This Week In Gratitude

Only a minute ago she was walking into her first day of first grade, and now this.

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She came home from her last day of school today and I squeeled OOOOH! A SECOND GRADER IN MY HOUSE! and she rolled her eyes at me in that way children do when they are faking annoyance at your utter uncoolness because they can't let you know how much it means to them that you're still so into them that you can't help but squee all over them.

Pro tip: I dont actually think that particular eyeroll ever goes away, so long as you keep unreasonably and insufferably loving the goddamn shit out of them.

Anyway, once she was done NOT SMILING AT YOU MOM and rolling her eyes, she came up to me, climbed in my lap, and once she was all snuggled in tight she asked, "Mom, what did you learn in 2nd grade?"

I thought. I really thought. I can still remember what that room looked like, the way the hazy east coast sunlight shone through the aluminum blinds and on to the wood grain desktops. I can still smell every smell in that room; dust, humidity, sweat, cocoa butter, rubber cement and chalk. I *cannot* remember any one thing that I learned inside of that classroom, however, save one thing: Adults can be very, very cruel to children.

It's weird that it took my grade two teacher to open my eyes to this. I lived with two of the cruelest, most sadistic adult human beings I will ever encounter in my life, but that is what is amazing about children - their infinite ability to love unconditionally and forgive repeatedly, and also to buy into your shit about "religion" and "discipline".

But my grade two teacher was not my mother. She was not anyone's mother, so far as I knew. She was the teacher-stereotype they make movies about, Ms Agatha Trunchbull in the flesh. She was a small woman, and grey all over - from her hair to her heart.

She particularly hated children in my cult sect of Judean-Christianity, as if we had some choice in the matter. I can't remember her name, and I don't remember the sound of her voice, but I remember the way her dingy blouse hung away from her flabby arms as she, every morning, would pull my friend's uncombed, unwashed red air up into tight ponytail with rubbber bands, and the way it hung stained with sweat every afternoon when she would rip those rubber bands out of her hair, not caring how much gorgeous read strands of hair she took with them.

I think that she hated poor people, that she was digusted by dirty children, that she dreamed of teaching at the school down the road from us full of middle-class white children whos parents packed them sack lunches and made sure their hair was combed and clothes were cleaned every day, not just on the first day.

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We were not middle-class white children. We were children that they all wrote off, the ones they tucked away inside a high-security Section 8 neighborhood and left to play in dumpsters or the woods or the basketball court until we all got good and hooked on our parents drugs or vodka or hopelessness and rendered ourselves obsolete.

Almost no one cared about us, but few dared to show it the way my 2nd grade teacher did. She actively despised us, even the few of us that showed the promise of some potential. We were lost children, lost causes, social waste - and she made damn sure we knew it.  

I read somewhere that a child's perception of themselves is defined by the time they reach ages seven or eight. That gives us a very narrow window of time to instill a healthy perception of self. I can't remember if grade two was the year that I learned cursive, or the year I started to multiple large numbers, but I do remember that grade two was the year I realized someone thought I was worthless.

And I'm glad for it. 

I'm glad for it because it reminds me every day to tell *my* second grader how much I value her, respect her, adore her, love her. It reminds me to be kind to every second grader, every third grader, every eighth grader I come in contact with, because maybe they just need one person to counter some really horrible message someone else is trying with all their might to instill in them.

In second grade I learned that adults can be very cruel, and I am grateful for that, and for her, because in so many ways she taught me exactly would grow up not to be. 

Is Too a Word

This post is sponsored by Clorox® Ick-tionary. Just FYI for the FTC.

My kids' last day of school is today and I really can't even wrap my head around the fact that this year has already ended. I mean, we JUST moved here before the school year had started and if the school year is over, that means that I like OFFICIALLY live in Arizona or something, doesn't it? Even my seven year old daughter remarked that this year went by really fast, and nothing at all ever goes by really fast for seven year old girls. One minute, I had a bright eyed and bushy tailed 1st grader, and two eager boys ready to enter jr high and high school all shiny and Axe'd to the gills. Now I have three large kids all somewhere on the pubery-spectrum, and all completely over it. 

My house is about to smell *awesome*.

My children are all of the age when cleanliness is next to impossibleness. I keep telling my sons that no one makes out with the smelly boy, but they don't care. At 15 and 13, they'd rather be hung by their putrid toes than face the shower. For a while there, they were both showering really super regularly, but then I decided to move my daughter into my room so that the boys could each have their own room, and the daily (sometimes even twice-daily) showers came to a screeching hault. I can't imagine why. 

Even my seven year old daughter is so totally over bathing, and this is the kid who just last year would take baths for days. I could plop her in the tub and go write an entire novel; she'd stay there, happily waterlogging away, for as long as I'd let her. 

Of course, every blessing usually turns into a curse, if you just wait long enough. Case in point.

(That, my friends, is called a Poop-edo, or a Tubtanic, or how to get your seven year old son out of your one year old daughter's bathtub with little to no effort on your part.)

Those days of her daudling away hours in the tub are long gone, just like this school year is, but she takes swimming lessons so she's at least getting a decent chlorine-dunk twice a week.

Her brothers both take MMA. With adult UFC fighters.

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You can't even imagine the smell. 

So I'm pretty excited to spend all day, every day, for the next 70 days or so with them in our adorable, but not terribly large, house in the middle of the god-forsaken desert during summer. 

And I haven't even started thinking about the trail of tears these children leave behind them everywhere they go. My son was home for 27 minutes today and it took me an hour to clean up the mess he made in that time. And then I remembered that it would have only taken me 16 seconds to yell at him for making it, and then I could have spent the rest of that hour watching him clean up after himself and knitting scarves for the winter THAT NEVER COMES HERE. I am slow, but I get there eventually.

Anyway. I've gone off topic. The topic at hand is the fact that my children are kind of gross, a-little-more-than-un motivated, and out of school for the summer, and (I think) competing for title of Best Mess Maker in Least Amount of Time. I call this The Alice Coup'r.

Or maybe their no-showering teenage-goopy butts are stuck in a tiny little house with me all summer long, because lord knows it's too hot to check the mail before 2:37 am, and what they are about to do to my poor house can only really be described as Stick(y)holm Syndrome

Life with kids is epicly icky. It is also very, very  funny. My car has had crabs, I've stood fascinated watching a child vomit out of their nose, I've attempted to catch vomit (#7), I've smelled wet sheets that were wet for all the wrong reasonsWe all have.

(Well, maybe not the sheets bit. I think you're probably smarter than that. Please be smarter than that.)

And that's the beauty of the internet - we get to laugh at each other. With. I MEANT WITH.  Clorox®, with the help of some of us who've been there & done that, created the Clorox® Ick-tionary – a wiki-style dictionary that we hope will become a new language of how we talk about messes and icky situations parents face, conquer, and laugh about.

It's kind of hilarious, really. From Board-‘oeuvres to Petrifries, if it's happened to you, it's going to show up in the Ick-tionary eventually. There are coupons for cleaning supplies to make your children scrub their black fingerprints off the walls with, interactive games to play (Match the Mess, which is kind of the safe version of Sniff the Stain, which I've done. In underwear I've found on the floor. I have no idea why. I am an idiot.) and new words to read every week. Each week will have a featured words - this week's featured word is Hippocratic Oaf (aka Germpocracy), which is something I won't be again for a long time because there is no more school to send my kids to even though they have Green 11's

You can actually submit your own awesome words for messed up stuff to the Ick-tionary at www.icktionary.com. I think I'll have a few words up there eventually (this one is me!), but I don't think anything is ever going to top Secret Garden.

Youth - In Like a Lion, Out Like Me at 8:30 On a Weeknight.

It has been three whole days since Star Trek Into Darkness was released in the theaters and I still haven't gone to see it. I don't even know who I am anymore.

I was actually awake at midnight when it premiered, and I kept glancing back and forth from my kids' doors to the clock on the wall, back to the kids' doors, back to the clock, and I eventually just realized that maybe it's time to get a grown-up wall clock. 

I don't even know why the hell I was up that late; I was probably writing another blog post that no one will read because A) no one reads blogs anymore and B) no one realized I didn't quit blogging three years ago when I accidentally killed my feed. Either way, there are a few things in life I simply do not do anymore, and one of them is midnight. Another one, it turns out, is going to midnight movie premieres, even if they are movies that I was named after, raised on, and will not receive anything for inheritance from my father aside from a questionable set of Deep Space Nine decorative plates because of. 

The only thing more questionable than men who collect decorative plates is men who collect decorative Deep Space Nine plates. #fact

It's like this week, someone hit me with the middle-aged stick. It hurt. We were at McFast Not Even Close to Food getting something to "eat" very late the other night after my son's final band concert (don't you judge me, they were all doing it, yes I would jump of the Brooklyn Bridge, shut up) and this table of kids kind of over there, but not too far over there, was all "fuck that motherfucking shit, yo, fuckedy fuck fuck ass-shit fuck." Before they even got to ass-shit, I watched myself stand up, walk away from myself and my family and over to there table, and I heard, but was unable to stop myself, from saying, "I hate myself for asking you this more than you hate me for asking it, I promise, but I have a bunch of little kids over there and there sure is a lot of fucking fuck going on over here. Would you mind finding new words for like 20 minutes?" Then I actually said UGH about myself, and meant it, and they, to their credit, were like, TOTALLY DUDE SORRY and then like three minutes later one of them was all fuck that noi....and they all turned to look at me like I was their MOTHER or something and I just smiled did that weird nostril flare thing I do when i'm in a real tight spot and they didn't drop one more swear word the whole time I was there.

Like 10 days ago I was that kid.

Except I was at Paris on the Platte smoking cloves which is way better for you that eating Mc Not Quite Burgers, duh, or at the original St Mark's which isn't even there anymore, on Market Street in LoDo, playing chess and drinking almond steamed milk because coffee wasn't cool yet oh my god I am so motherfucking old. 

I was driving to pick my son up from school the other day and some gigantic assmonkey flew through the red light and in every way smashed into the back of the car right in front of me at the light - and kept right on going. Young me would have torn after him, got his plates and reported his ass. Old as shit me followed the victim of the hit and run to a parking lot, probably scared the shit out of her, called the cops for her, then went to get my kid, then went back to the parking lot and sat with the girl until the cops got there, and tried to explain that her father was probably so pissed on the phone because he was afraid, and also how to file a proper claim with her insurance agency that would minimize her out of pocket debt. And then when the cops came and I filled out my witness report, I actually used the words Young Lady when describing the victim.  

If that wasn't enough, Nicole's baby went and grew up. All of your kids did. I have a kid who owns a high school year book. I have another kid with a girlfriend. And I am really am almost 40. For the first time in my adult life, I actually feel like an *adult* and I just can't deal with all the people waiting to see Star Trek like it's the first 2nd Star Trek movie to hit the theaters or something. I mean, do these kids today even know what a Ceti eel is? Or Fantasy Island? OR ANYTHING? 

Wordless Whatever the Hell Day It Is

Offered without comment, mostly because I can't even, but partly because I thought today was Wednesday. That, my friends, is calling winning.

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My 13 year old. And his *girlfriend*

::hums tunes from Fiddler on the Roof, pretends this isn't happening::

Me More Than You

I started working from home about six years ago, after I moved to Canada and got everything I ever asked for. Everything I ever asked for was, of course, to be able to stay home full time with my kids (and not totally suffer for it - I did in fact stay home full time with my sons and we ate sogoddamnmuch Kraft dinner and it was worth every bite). IN Canada, I actually wasn't allowed to work. Visas are weird. So is being a full time stay at home mom in a new country where you literally don't know a single person except the people directly to either side of your condo and you only really know them because that one night that you left the country in the middle of the night with your kids in tow, they'd offered to hold you while the cops beat your door in with sledgehammers to retrieve your children from their deee-runk! father. 

Can you tell I haven't been writing in a while? All of that should have been seven words. Man, when the levee breaks, I tell you WHAT.

So there I was, after a year of being a single mother with three very small kids and a potentially-ex husband in an entirely different country while living off of my two nights a week at the bar tips and a pathetic amount of assistance from the kids' dad in an 800 sq ft apartment, standing in the middle of the most gorgeous place on Earth in a quaint townhome and nothing at all do to but take care of it, and those kids.

I hated it, of course.

Thanks to the magic of the internet, the right someone was able to find that post, and he offered me a small little side gig that paid out of America, so Canada could shove it in my house-shoes and smoke it, and my days of working from home commenced. 

They quickly expanded beyond the confines of that small little side gig into a real live big girl job with a title and a teency bit of supreme executive power and a'ight stock options and a lunch hour and everything

Before all of that I waited tables. I loved waiting tables. I was really good at waiting tables. I gave waiting tables a lot of shit, but you know what? Waiting tables was something I couldn't do at home, and my kids never once asked me to stop serving that Côtes du Rhône and help them fold a duct tape wallet RIGHT NOW OR EVERYTHING WILL END.

My family has never really figured out what working from home means. They get mad if I won't let them play games or get on the computer after school because GAH, YOU ARE ON THE COMPUTER. The kids' dad used to expect to come home to dinner and a clean house, and I was like ARE YOU GOING TO COOK AND CLEAN? and he was like I AM WORKING and that my friends is THE POINT. I don't leave, so they don't think of it as work. One of the kids once said that their dad deserved to sit on the couch and watch TV instead of helping me with the dishes because he worked all day every day. 

Brains sure are hard to scrub off of popcorn ceilings. 

They think I type all day, and that is not an exaggeration  I took my two sons to Mom 2.013 Summit with me this year because I wanted, no, I needed them to see exactly what it is I do all day. They were like YOU GET FREE STUFF FROM PRETTY GIRLS IN SUPERHERO COSTUMES ALL DAY?

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My plan clearly needs some rethinking.

They did get a bit of a glimpse, or at least some context, into what I do at the computer all day, and I think it may have helped some. Of course, that didn't stop TXU from calling me yesterday to tell me, not ask me, to bring his homework to him that he'd left in his overnight bag from his dad's. This is where you point at the monitor and judge me, because you know that if I bring him the homework, I'm the problem, right? Well, I am, and I did, but only because A) I could and B) he'd worked all weekend on that homework and I have divorce-guilt.

Had he left it on the computer, that may have been another issue entirely. Which is exactly what he did this morning. 

So it's 7:38 am and he is ringing my damn phone of it's non-existent hook, and I just keep ignoring his call because he wants SOMETHING and I am not in any state to deliver ANYTHING except coffee to my face at 7:38 am, and he gets the point eventually and hangs up. And then he calls me from the school. And then he starts texting me.

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Can you get it to me by 8:03 am?  My boss would be hard-pressed to say that to me.

But the thing is, he worked SO HARD on that music. I should know, I listened to him play and replay and note and re-note and play and play and zomgmakeitstop until he had all the music written out perfectly. He's so squirrel! with everything in his life that when he really focuses, when he sits down and does something all the way start to finish, I just want to hold onto it because I know that he must really truly madly deeply love the hell out of it. I knew what would happen if I said no, I wouldn't bring it - he'd panic, then he'd get angry, then he'd get upset, and then he'd have a shitty day. I don't want to be the cause of his shitty days. I also don't want to have to drag my seven year old daughter out of her morning routine to go rescue her brother who could finish his work (bravo!) but couldn't get it from the desk to his backpack (boo!).  

So I told him no.

And I heard it. I heard him run through panic, then anger, then sadness. And it broke my heart, but I had to do it. At some point, these kids all have to be let to fall on their own, of their own, and they have to figure out how to get back up on their own, by their own. Their mother isn't going to be there with their homework and a cape all of their lives, and if I keep letting them think I will, then I am the problem.

Turns out, he explained what happened to his teacher and she is giving him until tomorrow am to turn in his assignment. I had nothing to do with this conversation. I'd be willing to bet, however, that he learned a way more valuable life-lesson during that negotiation than the reiteration of my unboundaried love for him would have reaped. And it only hurt us both a little.