Chalkboard Declarations

First, let me begin by saying that I believe in self-expression via writing. Words are the most effective means of communicating how we feel, right? It’s kind of a no-brainer that I, of all people, would encourage my children to write.

So with that in mind, I painted an entire wall in Joe’s room with chalkboard paint.

It’s been fun to find their silly little drawings. Joe’s nearly perfect attempts to recreate Chomp from Super Mario World. Gwen’s weird-looking princess people with something resembling an antenna springing forth from their heads. A series of wobbly lines drawn by Kate and placed directly over the artwork of her siblings thus eliciting screams of protest and angry pleas for me to make her stop.

Sometimes Gwen is permitted to sleep on the top bunk in Joe’s room. These are the nights when her heart swells with joy and she beams with giddy delight at his invitation for a sleepover. We know that giggles and fake farts sounds are part of the deal. Dave and I accept that we’ll be required to stand at the bottom of the stairs and issue several warnings to settle down. Of course we know this, but boy, do those two children share a special bond. We love to see them loving each other.

So last week, during one of their sleepovers, Dave and I let them giggle and make fart sounds for a bit too long. Mostly because the giggles had turned to uncontrollable belly laughs. The deep and uncontrollable kind that can be so rare for Joe as he struggles with ADHD and anxiety and emotions. He’s a serious guy. So when he laughs so hard that he’s gasping for air, we let him and we share a glance and a chuckle before finally issuing the “that’s enough now” statement.

To tell you the truth, I didn’t give those belly laughs much thought the next morning. They had become a warm memory, filed away for use at some future date when I attempt to recall what Joe and Gwen sounded like at ages 7 and 5. When I need to pull that memory out because I’m pining for these days. The very days we are experiencing right now. The ones that parents of grown children tell me I will miss. I believe them. I do. But when you’re in the thick of it, it is hard to embrace that sentiment. Despite the wistful expression that washes over the face of a stranger when they see me herding my noisy flock through the grocery store, the look that comes right before they say, “I remember those days.” They say things like this as they stare at my children, not really seeing them at all, but traveling back in time to spend just a moment with their little ones courtesy of a warm memory filed away long ago.

When a complete stranger remarks that they miss their little ones, I pause. I do. I pause because I know I’ll feel the same way one day. Mostly because my naughty little brood makes me laugh. Despite their decidedly fresh behavior and inappropriate language, I will miss them terribly when they become pimply and gangly-limbed humans.

However, I will not miss finding the messages of self-expression that make it abundantly clear what those sibling slumber party belly laughs were all about.

 
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How To Compose Eye-Catching Notes

Joe loves words as much as I do. His spelling has really taken off and nearly matches his highly advanced vocabulary. Is there a parent in the world that isn’t thrilled when their 7 year old starts rattling off road signs and calling out the names of random road-side businesses? Why, just last Sunday we were driving through a town here in Maine where someone painted a house purple. I suppose it was painted with the intent of making it eye-catching or, the painter hoped to attract that segment of society that thoroughly enjoys the color purple. (Not the book, silly! The color.) That tiny purple house-turned-business certainly caught Joe’s eye!

“Hey! There’s a toy store for adults back there!”

“Huh…I guess we missed that, buddy.”

Other than swelling with pride upon discovering my son’s ability to locate sex-toy shops…“What’s linger-eee anyway?”  …I love finding his carefully composed notes tucked around the house. Phonetics clearly work for him.

I give him a big thumbs up for style. The bright orange PIS(S) juxtaposed with that faintly penciled ELMO on a torn scrap of paper is a terrific example of recycling, fine motor skills and spelling practice. It’s hard to squeeze PISS into a tiny triangular corner of scrap paper, y’all!

Maybe he gets his developing knack for composing eye-catching notes from me. I’ve found that notes are rarely ignored when written on things that one might not commonly associate with “list” material. For example, leftover quesadillas from Kate’s lunch at Chili’s make wonderful writing surfaces. Not only did I recycle, but that note was one hell of an attention grabber! Dave didn’t forget a single thing on the list!

 

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What We Did To Celebrate 10 Years of Marital Bliss…

So, after I wrote that heartfelt post about our 10th anniversary last Friday, I’ll bet you wondered what we did to celebrate, right?

Okay, maybe you didn’t give it another thought but humor me anyway.

Hold on to your hats people because this is impressive! In fact, I’ll bet you’ve never heard of a 10th anniversary celebration as fantastic as this one was.

Seriously.

A giant pile of dirt was delivered.

Dirt.

I’m not kidding.

Our anniversary celebration was…how shall I say? Delayed.

Besides, you’d have to be a real asshole if you didn’t enjoy a giant pile of rocks, weeds and dirt.

Dirt!

Yay.

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God, I Hope He Understands.

I stood on the chilly beach yesterday afternoon, watching my three beautiful children collect hermit crabs and build spectacular temporary habitats for them. They ran among the other children on the beach, weaving through one another’s groups, laughing and sharing glimpses of their latest catch. The two groups interacted nicely, ours and theirs. Realizing that they shared a mission, they began working in unison to dig a special pool for their newly captured prisoners. I enjoyed watching my children respond to a new group of children. With a sense of pride I smiled at their good-natured ability to smile and make new friends.

Joe was digging in the sand near my toes when two women came to stand nearby. The mothers of the other group, I quickly realized. They were engrossed in their conversation and too busy to say hello. Joe and I were enjoying our comfortable silence when I heard one of the women sneer, “There’s no way I’m sending my Jewish child to a Catholic school. Ewwwww.” She shuddered after that last part. Actually shuddered and shook as if shaking off some invisible filth. Her expression said it all. I was shocked. Utterly speechless and, for the moment forgot that my Catholic son was at my feet. When I looked down, I saw him quietly studying the woman and immediately knew his wheels were turning. He heard what she said.

As my shock dissipated, I felt myself filling with anger. How dare she say such a hateful, bigoted thing with my children sitting at her feet. How dare she shudder in disgust at my babies, each and everyone one of whom was christened in the Catholic church.

The two women soon steered their group of children back toward the vicinity of their own chairs. I’m sure it was innocent enough, two mothers simply wanting to sit and talk instead of stand on the beach while their children played. But I was still bristling. I spent the next hour and a half washed in anger and resentment. I waited for Joe’s inevitable question, because I knew he’d ask.

He came to sit next to me and quietly began digging in the sand. Kate and Gwen skipped off to the shoreline to gather water and he thoughtfully watched them go. “Mom? Remember when that man poured water on Kate’s head when she was a baby?”

“Yes, Joe. That’s the day she was christened.”

“Does that mean she was made Catholic?”

“Yes, in a way. That was the day she was blessed by the Holy Spirit.”

“Why did that lady make that face? Like Catholics are bad?”

How do you explain hate, ignorance and bigotry to a six-year-old?

“Well…she is a different religion than we are and sometimes, people think that what they believe or how they live is better than people who are different.”

I watched his face for a reaction. Did he understand? How do I make this a teachable moment when I’m so upset?

“Does that make sense to you, Joe?”

“I think.”

“We live in a country where lots of people practice different religions. No one’s religion is better, just different. Being a Catholic isn’t bad or dirty. People with different skin colors than one another aren’t better or worse either, just different. We’re all still humans and we should be kind to eachother, even if we are different. Different doesn’t mean bad.”

God, I hope he understands. I hope that, for once, I was able to explain appropriately.

 

The day was bust. I was finally able to talk everyone into heading to the car so we could go home. In the parking lot, I saw the woman who had slurred our religion in front of me and my children. She was parked directly behind our minivan. Her Honda Odyssey was parked end to end with my Toyota Sienna. Her rear windshield wore a Sugarloaf sticker. Mine holds a Maine Running Company sticker. Her children were twisted in their seats, demanding snacks and asking questions as she packed their belongings into the back of the van. My children were doing the same thing. There we stood, similar in so many ways yet, she inadvertently told me that her family was better. She showed me with her disgusted shudder that she believed my children were somehow beneath hers. Because they are Catholic.

“Mom, what are we going to do now?” Gwen called.

I couldn’t help myself. I can never help myself when I feel that some social injustice has been delivered to my family. I inhaled deeply and in a voice that was louder than necessary, but just loud enough to be heard at the minivan parked behind me, I said, “Well, we have to go to mass to pray for all the bigots of the world.”

I know I stooped. I know that I did. But she heard me and I was glad.

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That’s Not Appropriate, Mommy!

One thing I have never claimed to be is socially appropriate. I’m loud and involuntarily roll my eyes at other obnoxious people (notice I wrote ‘other’). If warranted, I’ll happily let you (and everyone around you) know that you are being an obnoxious jerk. To top it off, my humor is somewhat ‘off’ which sometimes causes problems for me with the other mommies that are slightly more mature in what makes them laugh. I’ve had some trouble mixing my sense of humor with child rearing. It’s really hard to tone things down after 30-something years of life sans offspring.
I’ve been holding on to this picture for awhile. I like it. It suits me. Sure, she’s smiling at you over her cup of coffee, but she clearly thinks you’re an ass. I sometimes fight the temptation to pass these words of wisdom on to people who don’t like some of my posts and feel quite comfortable saying so. Believe it or not, some of my posts are actual essays versus mortifying mommy moments and life ain’t always funny, folks. On the other hand, the coffee drinking bitch in the picture above is funny. To me at least…

The odd thing is, I didn’t realize that I had aged out of so many of the things that make me laugh. Perhaps because when we made a left turn onto the road of parenthood, I had no idea that six and a half years could move so quickly, and all while I was often in a zombie-like state. The process has been so gradual. Kate made a respectably sized tinkle in her potty this morning. This is big news. HUGE, even! We’re nearing the finish line of our six and a half year diaper changing marathon and I’m beginning to feel like I’ve been living under a rock, only I didn’t know I was living under a rock. It’s almost as if I got stuck in some weird time sucking limbo…no, maybe more like Ridley in those Aliens movies, I was put into a hyperbaric chamber and stayed the exact same while nearly ten years passed me by.

I was struck with this revelation on Sunday afternoon as I remembered that I used to love Urban Outfitters. When we lived in Boston, I could have had my mail directed c/o Urban Outfitters, 361 Newbury Street. Oh my GOD, I thought, how did I ever forget about that? What has become of me? Who am I? I drive a fucking minivan and lopped off all of my hair into a pixie cut. I’m a *gulp* soccer mom. I’m not going to deny that some tears were shed. I won’t pretend that I didn’t go upstairs to my closet and fondle stilettos that I haven’t worn in a year. I looked at my sad, dwindling wardrobe and decided that I was going to revamp and stock up. My laptop and I were on a mission to make me cool and pretty again. I thought, I’ll just pick up where I left off…

 Urban Outfitters
Joe can read now, so in the interest of a tactful approach to motherhood, I’ll have to forego the purchase of this one.
I….am….a…virg…virgin. Mom? What’s a virgin?
Oh…um, well… A virgin is an angelic being. See? See this halo right here?
Problem is, he’d go to school and draw pictures of angelic beings and call them virgins. It’s bad enough that the words “Pussy Pie” tumbled from his mouth on our ride home this afternoon. In a nutshell, the t-shirt is just not a good idea. Besides, I’d likely just buy it and wear to go running or sleep in it.
Urban Outfitters carries these funny coasters called Indelicate Doilies. Genius. My personal favorite?
“Don’t Stain My Table, Douchebag.” 
Urban Outfitters
I like to sit back and imagine what would happen if I had some of the mommies over and served each of them with a cocktail, one of these doilies and a smile. I think that most of my new friends in Maine would laugh, but you have to wonder…I’m going to stock up and then let you know how that goes.
Speaking of cocktails and other mommies. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that jello shots are no longer appropriate. Damn! There’s a whole entire book dedicated to them!
Urban Outfitters
Same goes for the “Beer Belt”. I’m thinking that the neighbors might talk if I wear this to the next block party.
Urban Outfitters


Bottom line? I’ve aged out of Urban Outfitters.
Please, make me feel better about my metamorphosis into a haggard, old mommy by clicking on the brown button below. Each click saves me from sagging boobies and erases fine line and wrinkles!
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