This post has not one thing to do with cigarettes; It just seems fitting.
Cartoon by Natalie Dee.
A long time ago, I was co-president of a PTA. I was vice president, too. I was elected to be THE president, but I moved to another country just to dodge that bullet. In my 4 years on the PTA, I've sat on every committee at least once. I've worked every fundraiser, at least once. I've presented at every open house, I've attended every meeting, I've whored myself out to the neighboring businesses, I've helped hire teachers, I've twisted and turned the school's budget with the principal and a few other numbers-savvy mothers, I've flyered every door in our school's catchment...you name it, I've done it.
My PTA's budget was never less than $45K. By K, yes, I mean thousand. The last budget I worked on was $56K, and that didn't include the PTA stuff. That was just the check we had to hand over to the school. We never came in under budget, and ours was considered a low income school, with very low attendance.
I am a godsend in the world of PTA's. I show up at your meeting, you get on your knees and that sweet little pink baby Jesus for gracing you with his divine intervention. I was trained by the best. I kick PTA ass.
The PTA here doesn't get that. Sure, maybe I laughed heartily and out loud at the very first meeting I ever attended when they freaked the fuck out over an $11K budget. Yes, maybe I shouldn't have snorted my coffee through my nose after 10 minutes of listening to them bitch about why the school district wouldn't cough up the other $5,000 they needed to buy brand new, state of the art computers for the lab. Maybe I shouldn't have said through my chuckles that I raised as much as their entire year's budget in one fundraiser alone the year before, and that fundraiser had a Grammy nominated recording artist perform at it and made the local newspapers for its sheer coolness factor.
Maybe I shouldn't have then tried again and accidentally flashed the married, to a girl and to God, president. Maybe I should have said, "No thanks!" instead of, "Oh hell no" when the ladies of the PTA finally invited me to a get-together, because it was a sex toy get together and A) they all wear Pooh Bear sweatshirts and B) they all really love Celine Dion and C) none of them still have all their teeth*. *help...me* Maybe I shouldn't have whimpered in the corner after the treasurer totally pulled her shirt up over her head and shoved her boobs in my face over coffee at her house one day because, though she didn't bother to tell me, she'd just had a reduction and was quite proud of her new funbags. I didn't even know her name at the time.
Maybe I shouldn't have been visibly pissed when I was the only person out of 10 who showed up last year for the late-night, day before the big fundraiser of the year cram prep session with three starving kids in tow, only to be told the next day what an amazing job What's Her Fuck did getting everything ready at the last minute, and with almost no help at all, bless her poor over-worked heart.
Whatever it is that has gone wrong with me and this PTA just has. They just are not my group of people. I have tried. I just don't click there, and that is okay with me. Not everyone clicks everywhere, you know? I had a hell of a lot more time and energy to devote to really melding with my old PTA, and I got lucky to find some very like-minded people in that bunch, people I will remain close friends with for the rest of my days. That doesn't happen just anywhere; I know and respect this fact.
So, why I keep quitting and unquitting this fucking organization, I will never fully understand.
Some will recall that a few weeks ago, I agreed to help police the drop-off/pick-up area at the school. It was either that or bring a 2X4 and a sawed-off shotgun to pick up my kids every day. Seriously, no parking means NOT EVEN YOU, ASSHOLE. I've been wearing a really super sexy orange reflective vest every Monday and Friday, morning and afternoon, directing traffic at school. I've done this while my 3 year old has run in and out of traffic, while my boys have shoved each other into the creek, through a huge snow storm, on a sheet of ice 3 inches deep, all by myself. It's sucked, but I said I'd do it, so I did it. Until Friday, that is.
Friday I was directing traffic and 3of3 ran to the school to get her brother (his classroom door is the first outside the school, she was safe.) Except she didn't go get her brother. She vanished. I didn't think too much of it; there are enough people in that school who know who she is and where I was that I knew she'd resurface. Except she didn't resurface. Once I realized that her brothers didn't know where she was and I couldn't see her anywhere, I started running around the building looking for her. I freaked right the fuck out. We have bears and cougars and shit around here, you know? NOT COOL. I ran up towards the front doors and the PTA president hollered over to me, "Hey! Your kid is running around the school screaming for you." Like she was annoyed or something. So, yeah, you know where she is? "Um, YES, she's by the library and she's crying. *huff*"
She. Huffed. At Me.
I went tearing into the school and found my daughter, my THREE YEAR OLD daughter, bawling her little eyes out in the hallway and the only people trying to help her were my 4 year old neighbor kid and a woman with no arms. Not kidding. To their credit, the 4 year old was trying really hard to calm my kid down and the armless woman was genuinely concerned and almost frantic.
So, the good news is that since the PTA president who totally knows me, knows my kid, and knew exactly where the fuck I was chose to leave my tiny little girl alone and screaming in the school and then had the gaul to HUFF at me about her being lost, I get to quit parking lot duty!
The bad news is that I didn't have the chance to take a picture of myself in that dead sexy reflective orange vest. Which sucks for you. However, based on my track record, I should be rocking that vest again in no less than 6 months.
*Disclaimer: I have nothing at all against people who wear Pooh Bear sweaters, listen to Celine Dion or are missing teeth. The combination thereof, with these women, well, you'd just have to meet them.
Anyway, one day she was at her best friend's house, painting a dining room or something, and her best friend's three maybe four year old son came up to ask her a question. This soon-to-be-blogger, she was also a mother of two boys, and if there was one thing in life she was good at, it was tuning kids out. She hardly even noticed the "um, um, excuuuuuuuuse me..." and the tug-tug-tug on her shirt. The Kid's mother didn't notice either, really. Shannon and her best friend never got to hang out, and when they did, the world just had to stop turning until they were done. The pleases grew louder, the tugs grew firmer until The Kid was done. He'd had it. He stood in between The soon-to-be-blogger named Shannon and her best friend and said very loudly, "HEY MISTER LADY! Can I..."
Whatever he'd wanted was totally irrelevant. He'd forgotten his friend's moms name, and the only thing he could think to call her was Mr Lady. Shannon and her best friend about died laughing. A few years later, about a year into Shannon's blog, her best friend reminded her of that day. And that, my friends, is how Mr Lady came to be.
Today is The Kid's 9th birthday. I was trying to think of something profound to say to him, but he's, well, nine. He probably doesn't give a rat's ass what his crazy Canadian auntie has to say about him on some weird website. Also, I've kind of already said it and I don't think I could do it better a second time. That's one of my favorite posts I've ever written in my life, because it's one of my favorite things that has ever happened to me in my life.
Happy birthday, Kid. Thank you for changing my life, your mom's life, everyone's life. I owe you, kiddo, more than you'll ever know.
With God As My Witness, I Swear I Will Never Use Me Where I Should Use I. That's Where I Draw The Line.
With this post, I will lower the standards of journalism around the world. I will make a spelling error. I will probably make that error with the word 'grammer.' I will punctuate outside of quotations, I will single space where a double space is the rule, and I will unnecessarily place a comma before the final item in a list. I will start sentences with 'and' and 'because,' (I have no idea where the comma goes there) and with god as my witness, I will find somewhere to interject a superfluous semicolon. That's just how I roll.
The thing is? (So not even close to being a sentence.) I don't care. I am not a journalist; I am a journaler. (See, I totally made that word up.) (And that probably should have read, "See, I totally made up that word.") (Also; semicolon.) I am a diarist. I'd wager that a good 75% of those of you reading this are also diarists. I'm not looking to cure cancer or end world anything, I'm just looking to take some notes about my life that won't end up as grocery lists or Pokemon posters later. For that reason, I do my journaling on the internet. It's tidy.
It's an interesting thing, this internetowebosphere. For me, it seems merely like an isolated corner of the internet where a group of like minded people can meet and mingle, but I think that's a fallacy, truth be told. I believe that we are being watched, taken notice of and critiqued.
We bloggers have been called the generation of first drafts (for the life of me, I cannot find that quote), we've been labeled "Intellectual Kleptomaniacs" or "exuberant monkeys ... creating an endless digital forest of mediocrity," (those quotes won't stop finding me) and as much as those words ruffle every feather on my back, I can't exactly argue the point.
I am not a journalist. I barely graduated high school, for Christ's sake. I refer to Mad Libs for the answers to my basic grammar questions. I AM an exuberant monkey who has created a digital forest of mediocrity spanning four years. For every accusation of the blogosphere being nothing more than a glorified sewing circle, there is some group of people starting a rumour that, oh, the vice president elect's child was really her grandchild and some vast right wing conspiracy was forged to cover up the birth. For every criticism that the blogosphere is a financial drain on "legitimate business," there are headache medicine ads pulled and thousands of dollars throw down the tubes on not just the ads but the public apology for the ads because a group of people on Twitter took issue with them.
There are valid points to every criticism, that's all I'm saying. There are always two sides to any story, and I think it's important to attempt to see both sides as often as possible.
The fact that I am an uneducated diarist, however, does not mean that what I do is without meaning. The fact that I choose to put my words onto the internet rather than into a book that gets mailed to a publisher does not make them free pickings for every "respectable journalist" to use at their discretion. The fact that I am not using my words to make a living does not mean that someone else can without my permission.
My point is this: If we are expected to live up to the standards of journalism, then journalists would do well to grace us with the same courtesy. When Don Mills Diva has an interview with a newspaper and a blog post repurposed, distorted and turned into something completely different without so much as a hyperlink for her troubles, I raise an eyebrow at the editors of that news-site. When one citizen journalist more-or-less single handedly broke the biggest story to come out of the psychiatric pharmaceutical world since ECT being deemed inhumane* and subsequently had his work more-or-less stolen for profit, I stand up and take notice. Don Mills Diva and Philip Dawdy are journalists, and they are also bloggers, and if they aren't being handled with the same standards that we as basic, everyday bloggers are supposed to hold ourselves too, there is an issue to be taken. There is a line in the sand being drawn between the old media and the new media, and I am left to wonder if I've simply allowed myself to be intellectually intimidated into believing that perhaps I am the fly in the soup, when it very well may just be the other way around.
One could say that we are filling the internet with drivel, that we are writing and commenting and networking and conferencing merely to boost our own meager ad-share revenue and stats, but honestly, have you sat down and watched a 24 hour news channel lately? Sure, I may do a 7 things meme occasionally, but we had the privilege of listening to 4 hours of critiques about Michelle Obama's dresses on the night of the most significant night in this nation's history. Which is the greater evil, I ask? Which is the greater assault on the collective consciousness, me posting a bunch of pictures every Sunday on my personal blog that almost no one reads or Rick Sanchez getting his material for his major news network show from Facebook and Twitter?
Maybe they're equally as skeevy, but at least I always remember to link back properly.
All I'm saying is this: You know you've made it when you start pissing people off. We bloggers, we're arriving, and holy hell are we making waves. It's important, at least in my mind, to maintain our integrity but just as important is that we insist that the other media outlets do, as well. We have to stand up for ourselves, respect ourselves and each other, and make sure that the proverbial "they" do, as well.
*Molly @ Soapy Water can be thanked for that perfect summation. Just sayin'.
We've had a really craptastic month with the three year old. She's been crawling around the house, she's refusing to sleep without a bottle, she managed to find a damn binkie somewhere around here, she's been pointing at things and saying "eeeeehh!" constantly. She's ONE, all over again, only way more annoying.
I know this means something big is about to happen. In my head, it all totally makes sense. I cannot, however, seem to remember this fact, ever, not once in the decade I've had kids, and I always get blindsided by the jump.
Tonight, I laid her down to sleep, with her bottle *shudder* and a little while after I tucked her in, she cried out for me. I went into her room and asked her what she needed. She said, "Momma, I need to use the washroom."
Not, "Momma, I meed go potty." Oh, no, it was a crystal clear, perfect little sentence. I picked her up and carried her to the washroom (my kid is SO Canadian, eh) and she then asked, "Can I have some more milk?" and I said, "No way, dude" and she countered, "How about some water, then?"
None of this is any big deal at all except that she wasn't talking like that two weeks ago. She would have said, "MUK!" and I would have said, "No way, dude" and she would have said, "WA-ER!"
Ladies and gentlemen, my baby has acquired language.
It's not just that, she's also going potty by herself. Maybe your kids go by themselves by three, but my kid demands that I needs me to take her into the washroom, pick her up, pull her bottoms down, sit her on the potty, sit myself on the floor, cover her eyes with my hands and wait until she is done. When she is finished, I then have to fold the toilet paper into thirds, stand her up, pat-pat-pat her bottom (never, ever wipe that kids' bottom. You've been warned. She'll poke your eyeballs out) and then get her bottoms back up.
I abhor taking this kid to the potty. Imagine my surprise when The Donor and I went out on the porch for a smoke (shut up, I know it's killing me) and when we came back in, she was waddling her little butt down the stairs. "Whatcha doing?" I asked and she answered, "I went potty all by myself!"
AND she washed her hands after.
Since then she's kept going by herself, she's wiping, she's going to her room to get her own things, she's picking out and putting on clothes, and she's cleaning up after herself (a little). She lays on her tummy on the couch in the sun by the window and reads her little books. "T-S-O-P, Stop!" I explained to her that she positively had to eat two green beans and a bite of stuffing with dinner last night, that I wasn't taking no for an answer, and she did it. She lets me wash her hair. She's also kicking major ass at Sonic Heroes. She helped me get Tails under some crates and past a level the other day. She's three.
She jumped a full size in clothes overnight. She's started caring what her hair looks like. Her baby fat is almost gone. She can touch the floor when she sits in a chair. She went to bed one night a toddler and woke up the next day a girl.
I am fully aware that there is not one extraordinary thing about any of this. My three year old speaks in proper sentences and can wipe her own ass. She plays in her room and likes video games. Whatever, right? Right. I get it. But it just all sort of happened one day, the way these things do with kids, and I can't remember ever noticing this stuff before. Maybe it's because I had two kids little kids together before, maybe because I worked full time and then had two kids to chase at night and was just too distracted or tired to notice. I'm sure it's all buried in the back of their baby books (hope is more like it) but I cannot remember noticing it like this.
I remember a few months ago looking a a friend's picture of his daughter who is just a few months older than mine, and thinking there was no way they were so close in age. She looked nothing like my child. She was long and lean and grown up, and my kid was round and little. Tonight, I looked at my kid and I saw that same thing I saw in his child. I saw a kid, not a toddler.
I saw my daughter, not my baby, for the first time tonight. She's been here for a while, I suspect, I just forgot she was coming. You wanna know something? I'm pretty sure that my daughter is absolutely lovely.
Secondly: I am not many things. I am not a professional anything. I barely qualify as a mother on my best days. What I am, however, is someone who is very capable of learning from her own mistakes. Which are many in numbers. The most recent thing I've learned: I am NOT a doctor. Hell, I'm not even a pharmacist.
A really long time ago, I was prescribed some lovely brain candy to treat a whole bunch of stuff that began with Post. It was gorgeous. It worked like a charm, and I didn't chew my fingernails or grind my teeth or freak out about my new baby. And then I stopped taking it. The worst things that happened when I stopped were treatable by a manicurist and a dentist.
And then a not so long time ago, I started some new brain candy. If the old stuff was Tootsie Pops, the new stuff would be Pop Rocks: Hard core, has urban legends about. It did what it was supposed to do, which was to work without me noticing it was working, and it had one totally freaking fabulously awesomeiddity (is to a word) side effect that if I explained to you, I'd be crossing the imaginary line my husband has drawn in the sand for what I can and cannot tell you about our relationship. Yes, he actually has one and yes, I actually stick to it. Kind of.
Of course I didn't realize said awesomeness had anything to do with the pills and not the fact that I'm finally that age where parts of you peak until I decided that since I hadn't noticed any effects of the pills, they must not be having any and I stopped taking them. Because I'm that moron.
Thankfully, nothing too major came of my sudden cessation of medication, but I did notice that something was different. Just a subtle, quiet little something way in the back of my head, just enough that I realized maybe I shouldn't go running around self unmedicating.
You know what the Pop Rocks pills didn't ever help? The nails, the teeth, the tension. The obvious stuff. I realized I really missed that, and dear god in heaven I needed Awesome Side Effect to come back, so I decided to start taking both the Pop Rocks and the Tootsie Pops again, together. I asked my doctor first, shut up.
I started the Tootsie Pops first, and waited for the Miracle From Heaven that they brought the first time to rain down on me again. It didn't. So I added the Pop Rocks back in. And I waited. I waited kind of a while and the Tootsie Pops never really did much of anything that I needed them to. I'm sure they did something, but not what I cared for them to. So after a few months on both, I decided that I didn't want to unnecessarily take two medications when only one was doing what I wanted it to. So I dropped the Tootsie Pops.
Smarter things in my life I've done include but are not limited to: wearing white pants and a maxi-pad, upside down, twice; letting my 8 year old color my hair; walking 2 blocks home from 7-11 to find my car stolen from outside of my house, then remembering almost an hour later that I'd driven it the 2 blocks to 7-11.
I figured that I'd quit them once before with absolutely no ill effects whatsoever, but what I didn't figure was that maybe I was on, like, 4 times the dosage the second time around.
Of course, I wasn't expecting withdrawals and so I didn't realize that they were withdrawals and I instead figured I'd caught the stomach flu, then the regular flu, then the plague, and then I was clearly either being poisoned with carbon monoxide, experimented on by aliens, or even worse, pregnant.
Insomnia is a funny, funny thing. I've never really had it before, and all I can say is I'm glad I didn't have a day job. Also, being a zombie must really suck. No wonder they eat everyone's brains; they're pissed that you can SLEEP.
The good news is that after only a few (of the freaking longest of my life) weeks, I could see straight, my head didn't hurt, I wasn't afraid to leave my house anymore, the vertigo was gone and I got to sleep. Finally. The bad news is that hot flashes in the middle of the night have nothing at all to do with withdrawing from the Tootsie Pops, and that just insists on happening anyway.