Thursday, May 29, 2014

It's Coming...

It's the end of the school year and I am flat out over it. I wish teachers would keep this in mind while planning elaborate year-end projects and parties. In the past week, I've helped make a product to sell at market, create an invention and presentation, and bought dress clothes for a musical. These are all things that would have been exciting at the beginning of the year but now they are soul-sucking endeavors that make me want to home school, and by home school, I mean hire someone else to home school my kids at their home.

Last week little kid lost his homework, after completing it but prior to turning it in, usually a grave offense. But, really, this time I just didn't care. I was annoyed and mildly embarrassed but I felt okay writing the teacher a note telling her not to give him credit and to feel free to make him redo it. I felt like adding, "Because I don't care!" because I don't care. If that makes me a terrible parent, that's okay, too, because I don't care. It's actually kind of nice not to care.

I was really looking forward to summer and long, lazy days with my boys...and then we had the 4 day Memorial Day weekend and I realized I'm ill-equipped for long, lazy days with my boys. I'm tired of washing uniforms and signing stuff but I'm also smart enough to know that these upcoming months are not going to be easy.

Mr. Ashley's all, "Do they really need summer camp?" and I'm all, "HELL YES THEY NEED SUMMER CAMP! Why do you hate me?"

I need summer camp. That would actually be pretty awesome, to pack my own lunch and gather my own clothes and go off somewhere so people could entertain me for hours. Kind of like work, but more of it should happen outside.

I really love my kids, I just don't love dealing with school or dealing with no school.

That's all.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Hobo Feet

"Mom, what would you rather kiss--a hobo's foot or me?" little kid interrupted me for the 1864th time while I was trying to write an article today.

"I don't know, I'd have to meet the hobo."

Remember when he used to get all riled up over who had the softest nose, him or Murphy? Because he couldn't stand me telling our dog that his nose was soft since it somehow indicated that his own nose was less desirable.

"You don't love me!" He declared after hearing that I wanted to meet the hobo.

"I love you so much that I wore you in a cloth sling around my neck for the better part of 15 months and I let you go overdue when you lived in my stomach. A hobo's foot most likely wouldn't interrupt the writing I really need to finish. I love you so, so, so much that I'm going to invite you to be quiet so I can do my job and we can just bask in the love."

"I bet you love that dead squirrel in the yard more than you love me." 

"I'd have to get to know him."


Big Kid is home and is fine, by the way, we both survived the trip to St. Augustine.

And yes, someone does need to pick up that dead squirrel.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Overnight Update

I did it.

I woke up at 4 am yesterday to put Big Kid on a bus leaving town without me.

I didn't really sleep because I was awake every hour on the hour, checking the time and alternating between plans to "miss" the bus and have to drive up there or just making the executive decision to take a one night vacation in the same city as the school trip, solely for my own sake.

Mr. Ashley kept reassuring me that he would be fine, and I kept explaining that this was for ME, that I might not be fine and that I would just feel so much better that it would be worth the time and expense.

This morning when I went to wake him, he bounced out of bed before I even entered the room, all smiles and big-eyed with a glowing excitement. Ugh. I had to let him go. He chatted happily about his seat mate and his plans for the ride up as I checked and re-checked his bags and my inner ability to allow this to happen.

I was really worried that I would ugly cry or somehow embarrass him so I really focused on not doing that. It was going pretty well.

Then he boarded the bus.

I went to the other side of the bus for a picture of him through the window.

Photo: That is my baby on a bus going far away. I only snuck onto the bus one time and I did not follow it.

Then I saw a lady pick up his bag and put it in the overhead compartment. The bag had his entertainment and snacks in it, and I knew he wouldn't bother anyone to retrieve it for him now that he was seated.

I considered what to do. I knew I should just go home and let it work itself out but I looked around and realized no adults were really watching the entrance to the bus...and I slipped on.

Yes, I did. Yes, I know this was probably not the best choice. I know because Mr. Ashley told me so but I don't care one bit.

"Here's your Kindle," I said, plucking it from his bag. He looked at me with a face that said, "Seriously?" and thanked me.

"Have fun!" I said, slipping back off the bus. I knew not to kiss him or anything, and I didn't cry. I was pretty proud I didn't give in to my impulse to just hide in the bathroom of the bus and become a stowaway.

Overall, I'm counting the whole drop-off as a success.

He seems to be having fun and has been in intermittent contact through texts. He guiltily confessed to the soda he bought each day, assuring me of his caffeine-free choices, despite me telling him to enjoy himself and eat and drink what he wants within reason.

I have done mostly okay this entire time, with only one stomach-turning moment of "What in the hell have I done?" yesterday afternoon when his phone died. I'm really glad I let him go.

I'm also really glad he'll be home tonight.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Helicopter Crash

So, I know I was really looking forward to Big Kid attending a school that did more projects and field trips and activities outside of the public school norm.

But now that he's leaving for an overnight school trip to St. Augustine tomorrow, I hate this idea very much. Very, very much.

Mr. Ashley and I were not chosen as chaperones. I'm trying not to take it personally but I have a feeling that maybe I should take it personally. But Mr. Ashley hasn't even been a jerk there yet at all, so he should have been able to go, they even said they needed male chaperones and I suspect they are prejudiced against him because he married someone that might have accidentally been annoying a few times.

Or maybe they didn't choose us because they like me the most and we all know chaperoning is going to suck. Can you imagine the bus ride? It's like 3 days! Or 5 hours! Same thing on a bus full of 4th and 5th graders. While I'm fairly certain me being too nice and too fun probably isn't the reason I wasn't picked, I'm glad to have it on the list.

"Big Kid? I'm sure these people are nice and normal and all of that--but I don't really know them. Therefore, in my heart it feels like I'm sending my 10-year-old far away by himself and that is tricky. You have to watch out for yourself, don't assume anyone is watching you, you watch them! You do what you know is right at all times! Be respectful but don't be afraid to speak up for yourself! I am trusting you, the only reason you are going is because I trust you. Listen to them, but trust yourself, and do not get separated from your phone!" I urged him.

"Mom, I do know these people," he said. "So, yeah, I already know I need to watch myself, trust me."

Amusing but not so reassuring.

When he was in 3rd grade, I let him walk home from the bus stop by himself. It was one of the scariest days of my life...and I hid in the bushes and followed him the entire way. I honest to God want to do that tomorrow. The school said parents were not allowed, Big Kid has emphatically said I can not go and Mr. Ashley insists I should not go...but they don't own St. Augustine, I can go there if I want.

I really thought that I was so cool back in October when I had no problem with this idea. See? I am excellent at not being a helicopter parent. I do not have special snowflakes for children.

But today I would hire a helicopter to deliver me and my special snowflake to a hotel of our choosing in St. Augustine if it was up to me.

It's probably good that it's not up to me.

Friday, May 16, 2014

On Dying

So I swore I would stop writing about depressing things because it's more fun to be funny, but when you're writing your own life story, it's not as easy to declare that life will only be fun and funny. As lovely as that would be, life just kind of does what it wants.

Also, the kids just aren't that funny lately. That's their fault.

My life is going well. More than well, actually, more like shout-it-from-the-rooftops amazing. My biggest problems right now include having too many friends and too many jobs that I love. Is there other shit I should be worrying about? Probably, but I'm not. I'm mostly good. Almost every single day is a good one.

Grief has been a strange and surprising thing for me, though. It's a lonely and private thing. Even though I went through the experience of losing my dad with others, their experience is their own and they're alone in it, too.

I am 100% perfectly fine 98% of the time, but that other just swoops in out of nowhere and knocks the wind out of me. I have tried to sanitize my life of anything that may trigger this--I even threw away the bag I brought to hospice and most of the stuff in it. My favorite comfy pants have been hanging in the closet untouched since then, I hate the sight of them even though I miss wearing them. I re-arranged all of my playlists so no songs would surprise me. I don't like food I ate then and I dislike using the travel coffee mug I got then. I stopped using the brand of lip balm I used then. I don't want to think about "then."

But my brain did not get that message. Stupid brain. My brain apparently likes to think about it and it is a trying task to keep it busy and otherwise occupied.

A week or two ago, This American Life featured a show about hospice but I didn't know that when I hit play. As I came to realize the subject matter, I found myself frozen halfway between my kitchen and living room, standing there listening. Eventually I paced back and forth a little, caught between wanting to turn it off immediately and desperate to hear this other person's experience, curious to see if it was like mine, if they were like me. Needing to know that they are like me.

By the time they got to the part about keeping the patient's mouth moist with a sponge on a stick (a harmless little tool that now haunts me, despite its incredible usefulness at the time), I retreated to my bed and continued listening, barely breathing, feeling frozen again. It was a beautiful episode, by the way, truthfully told and informative and moving, even probably to normal people.

At the end, she played her mom and step-dad's song, Randy Travis' "Forever and Ever Amen" and then I cried. A LOT. I remember going to that concert and hearing that song with my dad. I cried more than I did when he died in March. I cried and cried and cried. And cried.

And sometimes, like then, I feel like I cry more over the getting there than the being gone. The being gone is sad in a deep, achy, surreal kind of way. The going was sad in a traumatic, sharp, really real way. And I know that, all in all, it was peaceful and beautiful and that I'm lucky to have been there. I feel like I gained so much spiritually and emotionally and as a human being in that room...but I would gnaw off my own arm if it meant we could turn back time and go back to before that happened and I could be the slightly more shallow version of me again. The one-armed slightly more shallow version of me who has a dad without cancer.

I miss not feeling this way and not having these memories and feelings and doubts and regrets. I know it is what it is, that this is life. I know it went as well as something this shitty could but I just don't like it.

How's that for profound? Dying: I just don't like it.

Probably a pretty universal experience.

Every once in a while, something sets me off on the path of thinking about it and it's hard to get other things done. Then it's hard to explain to people who need other things done, "But my dad died! Two and a half months ago, but still! I am super busy trying not to think about it because it sucked!" It's not a great excuse this far out. I myself am surprised it's still an issue and I know how bad it sucked.

I don't have a strong conclusion or purpose here. Most of me wants to stick this in the graveyard of unfinished posts. Telling the world that I still think of it is not the best way to not think about it, is it?

But that's what's up with me. I'm happy and busy and have almost everything I want in life except for these wonderful and horrible memories of "then."

Thursday, May 8, 2014


So, I accidentally caught Big Kid in an act of -- rebellion? defiance? lying by omission? I'm not sure. I ended up not being as mad as I probably should be, so I don't know which word to use.

Both kids love YouTube videos about video games. I know. It's bad. Videos about video games...I, too, roll my eyes at the very thought. But whatever. During our negotiations in getting permission to watch these videos, I explained that my objections were really with YouTube comments, more than video content.

I think I said something along the lines of, "Those people are serious morons and I don't want you around them." A kind and compassionate explanation. They both agreed and promised not to read the comments.

Yeah, I know. Everyone reads at least a couple of the comments, they are an irresistible train wreck. This whole post should be filed under "Parenting fail #gazillion" since I've lost count.

Then, months later when the issue had died down, I began getting strange google + notifications on my phone. At first I was excited because I thought maybe I finally did google + right and people there loved me, but the links all led to an alias I didn't recognize critiquing videos, movies, music and pop culture. Confused, I read comment chains and, although the subject matter was completely inane (to me), I was surprised at how well thought out and articulate the comments were.

It took longer than it should have, but not very long, to realize it was Big Kid. I'm still not 100% sure if I'm seeing YouTube comments or google + comments or what is going on, but somehow my phone gets push notifications from his account, so I see everything he types.

I wasn't really sure how to handle it because he shouldn't have been doing that, but I was also a little interested in what was going on here, and didn't want to blow my cover since this seemed like a fortunate parental gift, this sneak peek at what goes on when adults aren't watching.

Had he been your typical internet commenter, I would have been more upset. But he just seemed so mature and respectful and the grammar was lovely. The other people in the conversations he joined were also normal-ish...interested in odd things but not the terrible idiots I've witnessed before. Even debates were mild and as well thought out as arguments about gaming consoles can be. I felt very torn between pointing out his infraction and watching to see what would happen.

But one day I couldn't resist and I confronted him about it, not revealing my source.

"I know you comment on YouTube or Google + or whatever," I said. This is my go-to mothering method. I like to drop a bomb of information and quickly gauge reaction and then go from there based on their level of guilt or concern.

He looked back at me, calm but curious.

"I'm not mad but you know you're not supposed to do that." I continued, this time waiting for a reply.

"I don't use my real name."

"Yeah, that's good. What's going on there isn't so bad, I'm just disappointed that you weren't honest with me. Though I will say that I appreciated your language and maturity on the comments I saw. "

He nodded. "You know that wiki I edit?"

I do know about the wiki he edits, although I still don't really fully understand what a wiki even is, but I have seen this and it seems like a harmless hobby.

"That guy has no idea that I'm a 10-year-old. Who would let a KID edit their work? But, man, he needed the help. I haven't lied about my age but I do try to act and type like someone responsible and I would never bring up my age on purpose."

"I just don't want you talking to any weirdos on the internet."

"I just talk in the comments, and edit that wiki. I won't do anything else, I promise."

I trust him.

And I also installed a key logger on that computer and I avidly read those notifications on my phone.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Business Attire

This is the best co-worker I've ever had:

Even though he gives me hives, smells funny, and poops in my shower.