Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or Treat

Happy Halloween!

While working on Big Kid's Mr. Fredericksen costume from the movie Up, he asked what I was going to be.

"I could be Russell!" I said, "I could get a boy scout uniform and...."

"Mom, you can't be Russell. He's a little boy!" Big Kid insisted, looking worried.

"Well, Mr. Fredericksen is an old man and you aren't an old man." I pointed out.

"But Russell is a boy. You're not a boy. It's just not normal for a mom to dress like a little boy."

"Oh. Well, then I don't know what I can be if you won't let me be Russell," I answered sadly.

Days later he asked again, but I suspected he was double-checking to make sure I hadn't procured a boy scout uniform somewhere along the way.

"So, did you ever decide what you'll be for Halloween, mom?"

"Yes! I was thinking about it and I'm going to be Kevin!" I said with excitement.

"The...bird? From Up?" Big Kid asked, looking very concerned.

"Yes!! I'm going to wear, like, a one piece blue bodysuit. A tight one, I think they're called unitards? And I will attach some feathers to my butt and maybe wear a headband with some feathers? I'm thinking a shiny blue body suit, so I'll stand out. And we'll go everywhere together so people will know who I am!"

Big Kid looked absolutely horrified as I described my vision, I could see the growing panic on his face.

"Just kidding, Big Kid, I'll wear my skeleton dress again."

His relief was obvious. "Skeletons are a good costume for moms. That's a good choice."

So, no shiny blue unitard for me, although I think it was a damn good idea.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Not a Good Plan

I took a small, broken up handful of old gold jewelry to a jewelry store a month or so ago, thinking it would be awesome to get enough money to take everyone to the movies over the weekend. They ended up giving me close to $500 cash for it, which of course I was thrilled with, but this transaction completely blew little kid's mind.

Since then he has collected anything shiny--a gold plastic whistle, a silver-looking belt buckle, stray pieces of broken costume jewelry, brass buttons, etc. and routinely begs me to take him to the jewelry store so they can melt it down and give him money. I always have to explain why this plan will not work.

Then one day he hopped into the car with a smile when I picked him up from school.

"Mom, I gots a great idea!" he said, grinning.

"What's that?" I asked, doubtful.

"We should get some tubas and take 'em to the jewry store so they can melt 'em down and gibs us money!" As I composed myself he added, "Don't worry. It will be a lots of monies!"

"But where will we get the tubas?" I asked, because I'm practical like that.

He looked a little nervous about proceeding. "I can get us some tubas...." he answered.

"Oh? How will you get us tubas?" I asked.

"Maybe we could...find some tubas? In my music teacher's class? I could probly find some tubas." He looked guilty and slightly suspicious.

Big Kid interrupted impatiently, before we could plan some big tuba heist. "Dude, this is a terrible plan. It will never work and it's stealing. Number 1, we don't steal. You know that! Number 2, tubas are brass, not gold. I don't even think the jeweler will melt down brass--who wants brass?? Number 3, they fingerprinted mom for that money. You're going to steal tubas and then get fingerprinted?? No. No, you're not.You need a new plan, bro."

"Yeah, your brother's right. We would never, ever steal." I added, because I had to say something.

little kid sat quietly and considered what was said. "So...tubas aren't gold? They's shiny like gold."

"Dude, tubas aren't gold. The end."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Today as the boys got in the car, little kid was crying.

"What's wrong?" I asked. (Because you have to ask. Even though you know there's a 90% chance you'll get some ridiculously petty answer.)

"My brudder pinsed me," he sobbed, clearly hurt and embarrassed.

"Big Kid, you pinched him??"

"Mom, I had to. I didn't want to pinch him," he replied.

"Why in the world would you have to pinch your brother, Big Kid? That is so not cool that you did that to him!"

"He was singing a rude song. I had told him twice to quit and he wouldn't so I pinched him."

"Big Kid!"

"I'm not havin' him singin' rude songs. Trust me, you wouldn't have liked it."

"You're not his boss! You are NOT the parent. You do NOT discipline him. You have no right to pinch him!"

"Well, it's the only way he listens, by pinching."

"But it's not your job to make him listen!" I said.

"Whose job is it when you aren't around?"

"No one's! You can tell him not to sing that song and that it's rude and that you'll tell an adult, but if he chooses to sing it, you do not have permission to discipline him."

"I'm just tryin' to make sure he gets raised right! Singin' rude songs is not gettin' raised right! It's making me angry that you don't care!"

"I do care and it's nice that you care, but this is mainly my job. You cannot punish your brother, you do not have the authority to punish your brother. And little kid, you don't sing rude songs!"

And then I took away Big Kid's computer time...and with it went my only hope for some peace and quiet this afternoon.

I think I'm going to just start pinching people instead.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

little kid Starts Seetz

little kid: Me and Miranda are gonna have seetz.

Me: Seats?

little kid: No, seetz.

Me: Sheets?

little kid: Bro, tell her what I'm talkin' 'bout.

Big Kid: I don't know, bro, cheats?

little kid: SEETZ!! SEEEEEETZ!!!

Me: You and Miranda are going to have sheeps?

little kid: NO! Why would we have seeps?? What is wrong wif you guys?

Me: I think we need more clues. Can you say it in a different way?

little kid: Me and Miranda are going to seetz--

Big Kid and I: ...?

little kid: SEETZ, a 'becial class where you learn to talk good.

Me: Oh, speech?

little kid: YES! Seetz!!

Me: That sounds like a great idea!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Little Bit of Kindness

So, I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before or not (it seems unlikely that I haven't since I'm pretty sure I've told you all 98% of everything about me by now) but I am slightly obsessed with little people.

Not kids (of course not) but the vertically challenged who you may know as dwarfs or midgets, but they don't like being called that now. I don't love the term "little person" either but it's not up to me, so whatever, I call them what they want. I think they are miracles and aren't revered nearly as they should be. I also think they are amazingly adorable.

So imagine my delight when I saw a little person employed as a sign holder on a busy road near our home. I shrieked and pointed him out to Mr. Ashley, exclaiming over his cuteness and vowing to eat at the BBQ place he was advertising. "I wonder if I could take him to lunch there?" I asked. "Would that be weird, to ask him to lunch?" Mr. Ashley assured me that it would definitely be weird. "I'm at least going to bring him some cookies or a cold drink or something one day. I want to meet him." I meant it, too.

I took the long way to pick the boys up from school most days just to see him, waving happily and giving his dance moves a thumbs up even if I was 3 lanes away. Every time I saw him out there in his little jeans and colorful hat, I smiled. Every day I saw him I thought of how one day I would make a point of stopping and meeting him.

And then last week a hit and run driver killed him. Running over a curb, hitting him, and leaving him to die in the bushes.

I was so sad and so angry. Angry at the fucking asshole who could just leave. Angry at my stupid county who thinks hot, ragged, poor people on street corners holding signs is preferable to allowing proper signage for local businesses. And unbelievably disappointed that I wouldn't catch a glimpse of his striped hat on my way home anymore.

But mostly I was really sad that he worked such a hot, thankless, boring job, and probably had a challenging life, and may have had no idea how much joy he brought people every day. Facebook confirmed that I wasn't the only local who loved seeing him, many were outraged and many were sad. It killed me that I felt so strongly about a perfect stranger who I thought was a hard worker and a good sport and I never got the chance to tell him so because day to day life got in the way and I assumed there would always be the future.

I woke up the next morning with my heart still heavy and had to take a moment to remember why I felt so sad inside before remembering that the little guy was gone. I read articles about him that revealed that he was an even harder worker than I knew, working odd jobs in construction and other sign holder positions, as well as at haunted houses and Christmas events. He always wanted to be sure to carry his own load, said friends and family. He loved animals and used to take his cocker spaniel to the dog park twice a day, arriving early to sweep the pine needles from the paths. His sister reported that his dog kept waiting at the window for him to come home. He is deeply missed by not only those who knew him, but also by those who didn't; "rest in peace" signs hastily erected in front of local businesses and a memorial at his old corner, code enforcement be damned.

The outpouring of love and interest was touching, I just wish he had known about it when he was alive.

Today Big Kid and I were driving to lunch and I saw a new sign holder on another corner. It was raining outside and he was dancing with all of his heart and soul. Not just dancing but DANCING! Feeling it! I laughed and pointed him out to Big Kid. I considered calling his employer to let them know how great he was. I thought of how cool it was that he was really going above and beyond for the sort of shitty job that probably pays minimum wage and makes you stand in the rain on a street corner. I thought that he probably gets thirsty out there dancing like that and that I should stop with a cold drink one day.

And I thought of the little guy.

And at lunch, I thought maybe there won't be a "one day". And I thought of that guy dancing in the rain for $7-something an hour, making strangers smile as they drove by and how he probably didn't even know he was awesome. And I bought an extra bottled water.

I was a little nervous. Some of these people are homeless or mentally ill and some of those people can be dangerous. Also, this guy was a hard worker, not someone seeking a handout, maybe he doesn't want my water. Maybe he'd think I was weird and would be rude to me. Maybe I shouldn't. I was kind of hoping he would be gone.

But there he was, an hour later, with the rain pouring down, still dancing like his feet were on fire. It took two u-turns and illegal parking to get near him. I jumped out in the rain and approached him from behind, realizing he had headphones on and unsure of how to proceed. I lightly touched his arm and he turned and looked at me and I held out the water.

"You're working hard out here, I thought you might be thirsty!" He looked confused but smiled as he reached for the water. "I love your dancing and you made me smile today so...thanks!" He looked amazed. He looked touched. His face flooded with happiness. We both stood there in the rain for a moment, pleased with ourselves and each other. He stuttered out a very genuine thank you and gave me a big grin. I told him to keep up the good work, he told me to do the same, and I saw him gratefully chugging the water as I got in the car. We waved enthusiastically at each other as I pulled out of the parking lot.

And it felt amazing. It felt really good to have that 2 minute moment with a perfect stranger and to tell someone they made me feel happy. It felt good to overcome my fear of being weird or of other people and to make a momentary connection like that.

Next week, my awkward acts of kindness victim will be the guy who wears a Superman costume and holds a sign for a tile and granite place. I've thought many times that he has to be hot in that suit, he wore it all summer.

I'm still really sorry I never got to meet that little guy, but feel grateful for what that regret taught me. I'm going to try to remember to thank the unthanked more often in his honor.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The C-Word

Last night we went to a hockey game. For someone who doesn't really like sports, I am surprisingly loud at sporting events. (To be fair, I do really like athletes...)

A goal was scored and the crowd did the "We're going to beat the crap out of you! You! You, you, you!" cheer. Big Kid looked over at me in shock.

"Did you just say the c-word??" he asked. "Is that what they say?"

"Crap? Eh, it's not really the c-word. It's not really a bad word, just an impolite and usually inappropriate one--but the rules are a little different at sporting events. You shouldn't walk around using that word but if you want to do the cheer with the crowd tonight, I'm cool with that."

He looked shocked. And conflicted. And pleased.

Our team scored again and Big Kid and I pumped our fists in the air and joined the crowd in the cheer together.

We got up to go to the bathroom between periods and he said, "You know what? It feels a little bit good to curse. I mean, I don't want to be the kind of guy who curses and I don't want to hear little kid talking like that," (little kid was thankfully absent for the above-mentioned conversation and never picked up on the words of the chant), "but sometimes it feels good to be a little bit bad. You know?"

"Yeah, I know. Just know the right time to be bad, you know?"

"Uh, yeah, I'm not gonna be walkin' around using the c-word. Don't worry."

I'm not worried. And that's why I let him do it.

(And why little kid might never be allowed.)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Overcoming Obstacles

"I wanna sit on your lap," little kid said to me as we were looking at the computer.

"Okay, but you're almost too big for my lap!" I answered as his arms and legs were hanging all over the place.

"I will NEBER be too big for your lap, did you hear me? NEBER."

"What about when you're in college. Will you sit in my lap when I come to visit?"


"What about when you're married. Will you sit in my lap then?"

"A course. I'm always gonna sit in your lap, I like it."

"What if your wife thinks that's weird? You know, an adult sitting in his mom's lap?"

He considered this seriously.

"Well, I'm just gonna have to pick the right woman. And if she doesn't like it, then she's not the right woman! I wish I could marry you, though."

Yeah, great, then I could be a human chair for life!

We still have to have the "You can't marry your mother" conversation on a weekly basis. He just refuses to believe that this is a fact and thinks Mr. Ashley is the only thing standing in our way.

He referred to me as "his woman" the other day (he does this all the time, very bizarre from a 5-year-old) and when Mr. Ashley clarified that I was actually his woman and that he met me first, little kid said, "Well, one day you'll die," very matter-of-factly, as if that would finally end this argument.

I don't know whether to be flattered or afraid.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Apple Inc

"Big Kid, Steve Jobs died yesterday, you know, the founder of Apple? A lot of people are really sad and it is all over the news and internet because he was a genius and even more importantly, a super hard worker."

"Mom! Mom! I KNOWS him! I know 'at guy!!," little kid said excitedly from the back seat.

"You know Steve Jobs?" I asked.

"He's Johnny Appleseed! He planted da apples all over da lands. He work-ed really hard so ebrybody could have apples and now he is dead! I know all about Johnny Appleseed!!"

"Ha! He's not the Johnny Appleseed you're thinking of, he's the guy who invented iPads and stuff. He's the reason people like us have computers in their homes--they were big and expensive before."

"Oh, well, Johnny Appleseed died too and people were very sad and it was on the news, probably."

"Yes, him too."

"I'm sad for them both now, both apple guys. I really like apples."

"Me too."

Rest in peace, the other Johnny Appleseed, and thanks for planting Apples all over the lands.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

And I Know It

The other day at Home Depot, I walked up to a manager and a teenage employee to ask them a question before checking out. The manager was 40-ish, balding, chubby--perfect Home Depot manager. He answered my question and I thanked him, and then out of nowhere he broke into that "I'm sexy and I know it" song, which he continued to sing, complete with sound effects, as he moonwalked down the aisle and around the end cap.

It was incredible.

The teenage cashier was obviously mortified but I have probably thought about this guy every single day since. It was one of the funniest spontaneous things I've ever seen and if I knew his name I'd write a letter to Home Depot headquarters about him (but I'd probably leave out his actual actions, I'd just mention that I enjoyed my visit because of him.)

He has become a legend in our house and much to Big Kid's dismay, I've got little kid singing the song now. Big Kid DESPISES the word sexy. It makes him visibly cringe. I never realized how prevalent the word was until I realized how sensitive he is to hearing it. I finally had to try to explain that it wasn't really a bad word, just not an appropriate one but he still hates it. So he's not impressed that I've got little kid singing lyrics like, "I'm sexy and I know it," and "Girl, look at that body. Girl, look at that body. Girl, look at that body. I work out!"

And I know he's right. But it's too funny to stop.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Meet the Teacher

If you took Mary Poppins and made her more modern, prettier and stuck her in a kindergarten classroom, you would have little kid's kindergarten teacher. I swear to you that I could not have custom ordered a more picture-perfect first teacher than this woman. She is outstanding and award-winning. She looks and talks like a Disney princess and has every one of those little kids convinced that she chose each of them to be in her classroom because they are so special.  When I had lunch with them they all beamed with excitement as they said "She choose-ed us! Because she knew we was the best! That's how comes our line walkses so straight to the cafatewia."

little kid adores her and as a result, loves school.

She's been teaching for 21 years (but she looks young) and has read the same poem on curriculum night every one of those 21 years. I can't find it for the life of me but it's a poem from a mother to a teacher about sending her daughter to kindergarten and how she loved this child since before she was born, knew her name since before she was conceived, that she was her miracle and her entire universe and she was entrusting her to this teacher now. She warned us before she read it that she cried every single year.

And she did.

And I don't mean a little weeping, this woman broke down and had to stop to compose herself THREE TIMES throughout the poem. Three heart-wrenching, painfully awkward, completely silent and still moments as she got herself together. She sobbed through some of it. The men in the room were flabbergasted and tense and the moms couldn't help but get teary-eyed at her emotion. She blurbled about how she doesn't know why our children were with her but she knew in her heart and soul that they were meant to be here with her and that she truly thought every single one of them was a miracle and felt blessed to be entrusted with them.

At first I was stunned by this odd public outburst. Then I was moved by her vulnerability. And by the end of it, I just loved her so fucking much. I can't even leave the f-word out of it because it went beyond loving her as a teacher; I love her as a person and a mother. She GETS IT, really, really gets it, the importance of her role in their lives. She loves them like a second mother would and I love her for that.

I feel like my kid won the lottery having her as a teacher. And to think, she feels lucky to have him!

She did laughingly share with everyone that little kid is the only 5-year-old she's ever heard say the words "brain fart" and that although she laughed she had to tell him it wasn't allowed, and that was a little bit embarrassing--but if that's the worst of it, I'd say we're doing good.

So let it be known that I cried at curriculum night, and not because my kid says brain fart.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


I have survived the move!

But barely.

I was without internet for 957 days and had physical withdrawal symptoms. Well, it was actually 6 days. But it was a very lonely and sad 6 days. I wasn't even able to stop and tell you all that I had lost my fancy Magnum Sharpie and as a result of that loss, packing came to a complete standstill. Instead of telling you all, I had to just continue packing. Without my fancy marker. It was awful.

Then instead of telling you all that a 4 bedroom house with a 2 car garage didn't fit in a 2 bedroom house with no garage, I had to just keep unpacking those boxes. And move a lot of them onto my ginormous porch. And throw a ton of shit away. And I still have stuff to unpack.

Did you know that I do not suffer from insomnia when there is no internet? Isn't that amazing? I'd rather have insomnia though.

I was in a true panic the first day here when I realized that all of those extra, mostly unused rooms in the other house had actually served as a sound buffer. Suddenly I could hear every dog toenail on the tile, and every single noise the kids made. There was a brief period of time when I decided this house would be perfect if we didn't have kids and then I realized the reason we don't have orphanages around is because people would drop their kids off at moments like this. Because it sounded like a really good idea for a second. I could have kept my office furniture that way.

(It was really nice office furniture.)

But we're all here (even the hedgehog and weiner dog, for the commenter who asked). With all of our stuff. And our teensy tiny fridge and our teensy tiny dishwasher and our teensy tiny washing machine. They have dials, nothing is digital. I forgot how to use washing machines that don't have special little drawers for the detergent. The appliances all say they are "whisper quiet" and then it sounds like a tsunami is approaching when I turn the dishwasher on. There is no pot-filling faucet over the stove but the sink is so close to the stove that I can pretend there is. There is none of that nambsy-pansy "energy efficient" bullshit here though--water shoots out forcefully, the toilets could flush rocks, and the water comes out of the tap so hot that you could boil eggs. So that's awesome, except for the environment and all.

And I love it. Or I will love it. One day. When the maze of boxes is gone and everything is in its place (and everything must have a place here so I will be organized by default) and I'm planning vacations with the money we're saving.

And I'd better love it because I am never, ever, ever, EVER moving again. Ever.