Saturday, December 24, 2011

Getting the Grease Out

Cleaning up.  Two hateful words.

As in I hate when the house is ready to crawl away from itself and "cleaning up" is the only way to save the situation.  And the kids hate when I lay down the law and involve them in the effort.

I've tried to keep my dislike of it all to myself.  You know, to set a good example for the wee ones.  But somehow, like me, they long ago adopted this same aversion.  Unfortunately, unlike me, they're more than happy to complain long and loud about it.

Cara: "Ryan, stop staring into space and dust already!"

Ryan: "Cara, stop being a security camera looking at me!  What are YOU doing?!"

Cara: "I'M straightening up!"

Ryan: "Yeah, well it's all YOUR crap YOU leave all over the place anyway!"

Cara: "Dirty tissues don't belong to ME!  God!"

Ryan: "Love ya!"

I left out the swearing, personal insults and gender hate that also seems to come naturally to them.

I know it would be somewhat easier to hire a cleaning service.  Trust me, Mike and I had one before kids.  It was great.  We'd straighten up for 10 minutes the day she was due to arrive.  And the house would look pretty much the same until the next time she came.

But once the diapers, wipes, baby toys, baby blankets, Barbies, Tonkas, Fischer-Price, Bratz Dolls, Silly Bandz, Nerf Guns and 40,000 slips of paper from their respective schools came along... it seemed kind of a waste to spend half a day picking up before a cleaning woman came, only to have the place look like somebody detonated a garbage bomb two hours later.
Mushroom cloud formation from the garbage explosion (1204-175 / cans in prog2a © Mike Agliolo)
I've tried to get the kids to be more organized.  I've tried to enforce rules like, "Hang up your coat," "Don't leave your shoes in the middle of the floor," "Do put your plates in the dishwasher," "Don't leave a half-eaten ice pop that you stuck in a cup on the coffee table for three hours," "Do use a napkin when you eat frozen blueberries with your hands while watching TV because the carpet actually is NOT a napkin."

Of course, there are many more do's and don'ts that I dish out on an hourly basis, but you all have lives....

What really gets me is when my alleged "friends" on Facebook post that their pre-tweens cleaned all kinds of stuff "without even being asked."  Good.  Open a kid cleaning school.  I'll enroll my two tomorrow.

Before anybody starts sending me ideas on how to get my kids to happily, or unhappily for all I care, pitch in, I've tried it all.

--Praise.   I've used this when they've helped without my asking.  Such as, "It's so great when you clean your dirty tissues off the dining room table.  It's helpful things like that that make me happy and less revolted as I go about my day."

--Chore money.  I've paid up.  Ohhhh, I've paid.  Dearly.  But even when I've paid the money, the kids eventually decide no amount of money is worth doing chores, even though they're risking a total wigging out rant.  (See next item).

--Rants.  These aren't fun for anyone.  Particularly my neighbors.  These tirades can last anywhere from two minutes to two angry hours, depending on my energy level and the amount of back talking and ratting out Cara and Ryan pile on.

--Chore sheets.  My sister successfully wrote one of these up for her kids.  My therapist seconded the idea.  So,  I wrote one up with Daily, Weekly and "Whenever I Ask" chores plotted out for each kid. I showed them.  I explained the importance of it.  I posted it inside a kitchen cabinet regularly visited by everyone.   One month later:

Cara, sitting across the kitchen from said cabinet: "What's that white sheet of paper taped inside that cabinet?"

Me: "Really?  It's the CHORE CHART you're supposed to be following."

Cara: "Ohhhh....  huh..."  ...She then retreated from conversation while sitting right in front of me.

So now, it comes down to bribing situations.  But we're from Jersey, so it doesn't even really feel like a bribe. It feels like what's right.  Things like, "Sure you can have friends over" or "Sure, I'll take you to the mall," or "Yeah, I'll bring you to Game Stop" BUT "You have to help with cleaning up around here."

Of course, the kids react like duly indignant Hudson County politicians.  But like those back room heroes, they inevitably realize that in order to get their way, they have to grease the palm, or clean the kitchen.  Whichever.

Everybody has their bitter pill to swallow.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ho, Ho, Ho NO!

One of my friends told me a week ago that it had been three weeks since I wrote a blog.  In my defense, this is supposed to be a humor blog.  And I guess I JUST WASN'T FEELING VERY HUMOROUS!

For example, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, while I was knee-deep in strings of lights, tubs of Christmas decorations and raw hostility toward all things living, Mike asked, "So, I guess you don't know the Jets won."

Me: "I didn't even know the Jets started playing!  This is crazy!!"

Crazy was trying to do Christmas decorating in what turned out to be "on my own."  It wasn't supposed to be that way.  Of course.  After all, it was Cara's idea to lug the eight or nine monster tubs out of the garage to get the decorating under way first thing that a.m.

Me: "Really, Cara?  I'm trying to beat this cold before it seriously kicks in.... You have a tennis lesson.  I wanted to go to Zumba...."

Cara: "Well, I want to have friends over for a holiday party on Friday night.  And I'm busy with school stuff all week."

Translation: I would be stuck doing it on my own if she and I didn't start the process last Sunday.  But lo-and-behold, her homework struck right before the first lid was pulled from the tub -- a semi-legitimate excuse.  It was also when Ryan needed to see a friend down the street -- a completely illegitimate excuse, but he's barely helpful so I let him go.  And Mike needed to watch football for work--which was actually legitimate, so I never even tried to get his help.

And that's when I came down with a bad case of, "This sucks!"

Last year, both kids actually helped.  We did the lights, the tree, the little village all together.  With holiday music playing.  And only six to ten fights.

But this year, I was attempting to do a whole-house holiday transformation just one week after we hosted Thanksgiving for my family.  And THAT effort required a major house transformation, mostly involving bulldozing crap from one floor to another, giving the false impression that our home is "cared for" by people with organizational skills, a fierce cleaning regimen and a modicum of pride.

But here I am, posting a new blog.  So you might be tempted to think the pressure's off and now I'm chillin' out with my feet up and a Santa hat on my head -- much like your co-worker this afternoon after his two-bowls of holiday cheer at lunch.  But you'd be wrong.

I'm just ignoring things like, oh I dunno, CHRISTMAS SHOPPING!  Yes, I've managed to ignore the malls, the 40,000 email "deals" that came to my inbox, my phone and my Facebook page, not to mention the beautiful catalogs that have arrived in my oldey fashionedy mailbox outside.  Which reminds me I haven't yet considered a greeting card theme, never mind made and mailed any actual cards.

I write about retail for a living, so you'd think I'd be more on top of this.  But I think I've reached the point where I now expect the magic of Macy's to cover buying, wrapping and delivering all the gifts under my tree without any involvement on my part.

So, without further ado, I present a much belated blog.  Not, I hope, to be paired with much belated presents... 

Monday, November 07, 2011

Phone-y Baloney

After much reminding that, "Cara got a phone when she was in the sixth grade," Ryan is now the relatively happy owner of a cell phone.

I say "relatively" because he really wanted a phone that looked suspiciously like a Nintendo DS.  He also floated the idea of procuring an iPhone.

Cara: "He wants a phone with a data plan?!  I had to wait until I was 16 before I got a data plan!"

I almost wept thinking about how sad it is to be a Salfino kid.  I, on the other hand, somehow made it to the far side of my 40s before obtaining a phone with a data plan.


I didn't get my kids phones until sixth grade because I am always dropping them off, picking them up and generally aware of where they are all the time.  Unlike when I was a kid and pretty much every kid in the U.S. was told to turn off the "Mr. Ed" reruns, get out of the house, and not come back until lunch, dinner or "until I call you." And when the moms called for you, they literally just started yelling from the front door.  If you didn't hear her because you were indoors, or wandering aimlessly in the woods, a park or a strange neighborhood, you maybe got lucky if some other kid passed and muttered, "I think I heard your mom."

These days, kids are dropped at school or the bus stop and picked up at the same spot.  They're dropped at their after-school sport or activity, where parents often sit, watch and wait -- both because they feel guilty that they're not more a part of their kids lives, and because car pools are such a hassle to work out, it's somehow easier to suffer through driving their kids both ways.  If kids are actually dropped off at the venue, parents have emails and schedules that tell them exactly when to return.

Which brings me back to my point: if the kids aren't ever left alone, why do they need phones with unlimited talk and texting, never mind a data plan?  Obviously, because they need to keep up with the Joneses.  God, Mom!

A couple of people over the years commended me on not getting Ryan a phone.  "You're raising a normal kid," they'd say.  Actually, I was a) just too cheap to buy him a phone in the first place, b) loathe go on search-and-find missions for a phone he'd undoubtedly lose on a daily basis and c) averse to replacing phones he'd undoubtedly leave somewhere.


But I'd just smile and nod.  What was I going to say? "Why would I get that #%! boy a phone?!  He had a DS stolen when he left it at a Five Guys for seven minutes before he realized he didn't have it.  He loses DS games and chargers on a regular basis!  He HAD an iPod that went missing for five months, and the only thing that bothered him about not having it was that he was forced to listen to Mike's old iPod that's loaded with Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones.  Did I mention headphones are as disposable as water bottles to this kid!"

But my son persevered with his phone aspirations.

Ryan: "I'll be able to walk home from school and you won't have to worry about me. When I'm at track, you won't have to wait for me -- and I can call you if we end early.  If I'm in town with a friend, I can call you so you know where I am.  And you can drop me off at the gym and I'll just call you when I'm done.  "

I always had a quick "Negatory" response for all those arguments.  Yet today, he has a phone.  As usual, it was not me who bought it for him.  He appealed to his tech happy dad while they were junking an old TiVo at Best Buy.

He sent his first text to me as he was exiting school, where I was waiting to pick him up: "Can I skip the gym today?"

...And there ya have it.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Morning Rush

I'm a disgrace to my profession.  No, not chauffer-laundress-chef-secretary-social secretary-gardener/landscaper-maid-grocery service.

I'm a disgrace to the fashion industry about which I spend my professional life writing.  I've had this inkling for quite some time.  But it was put into sharp focus today when I read a NY Times article about moms who wear Prada, Gucci and all manner of designer duds to drop off their little darlings at school.

Apparently, it's becoming quite common for NYC moms to bring their kids to school carrying Celine totes and wearing Christian Laboutin shoes -- y'know, the ones with the red soles.  If my shoes are ever red on the bottom, it means Ryan's spilled something and neglected to clean it up.  Again.

To be honest, I don't even want to say what I wear when I'm racing my kids to their respective schools.

Before you say, "Why do you need to race these kids to school?," let me just put it out there that our town doesn't have bus service.   We have five elementary schools and one high school.  Somebody, about 100 years ago, had the quaint idea that the children would all walk to their "neighborhood" schools.

Well, many of us in our neighborly town of 18,000+ never got around to regularly having our kids walk.  Especially in the morning.  For us these days, morning is when we're desperately trying to get Cara to school on time, with her 30-pound book backpack, gym sneakers & clothes in a drawstring backpack, tennis gear in another bag and, if she's lucky, a piping hot cup of tea in her hand.

My son's school starts a little later than the high school.  But with much arguing and ranting, I manage to get him and his gear in the car at the same time as Cara, so he's actually early for school every day.  All of which leaves me looking, well, a little rough around the edges.

What I'm not is the Manhattan-style "calculated casual."  I mean, I'm looking casual, but in that "what a slob" kind of way.

It wasn't always like this.  When I used to walk the kids into their pre-school, and in later years when I waited with them until they went into their grammar school doors, I made somewhat of an effort.  It wasn't Rag & Bone jeans with a Prada coat and boots.  But it wasn't my current sleepwear-meets-sweats-meets-"Look away, man!" either.

I'd feel worse except I know I'm not the only person in Rutherford dropping off my kids wearing the Ab Fab combo of pajamas, Merrill slide-ons and my kid's sweat jacket.  You know how I know that?  Every now and then, some idiot kid -- and by "idiot" I mean, "rat bastard out to humiliate his mother" --  leaves his lunch in the car.  You see a mom start to pull away, jam on the brakes, then jump out screaming and waving a lunch bag.  And you think, "There but for the grace of God go I...."

I do manage to brush my teeth -- in case I get pulled over or into an accident.  And I get my contact lenses in -- because I'm too vain to be seen in my glasses if I get pulled over or into an accident.  I yank my hair into a pony tail and rely on Jackie O-sized sunglasses to hide as much of my visage as possible.  If I'm lucky, I HAVE the Merrill shoes on, and I'm not wearing slippers.  Although, that's happened.

Ironic how I worry about getting pulled over by the cops when, apparently, I should be worried about getting written up by the fashion police.  These Manhattan moms are going simple when they pair a shirtdress with ballet flats.  Some of them are considering snapping up some red skinny jeans to wear with their impractically high heels.

Me?  I'll be in my "Mom, dear God, stay in the car and keep the windows rolled up!" garb.  Livin' the dream....

Monday, September 26, 2011

Car Wars

When I got a new vehicle last February, it was after many months of consideration.

I compared price, mileage, horsepower, rear legroom, storage capacity, color choices, fabric.  I checked online, studied newspaper and magazine ads, and went from showroom to showroom for test drives.  I'd probably still be making up my mind, except Mike AND the kids came with me to the Honda dealership.  By the end of that day, the kids, Mike AND the sales woman wore me down, and I signed for a new CR-V.

When Mike's Volvo broke down last Tuesday, he went to Hackensack Toyota Wednesday and bought a new car.

Mike's Volvo was great.  And it was actually sad that we had to say good-bye to it.  But he'd just dumped $1,200 into it during the summer for upgrades and maintenance.  The idea of dropping $3,000 more on a 14-year-old car seemed asinine.

Speaking of which, I don't get how he buys a car in ONE DAY!  I work from home; he could have used my car while he took his time looking for a new one.  By no means was this a code red catastrophe!

Mike: "I'm going to Hackensack Toyota just to look around and see what they have.  I know the service manager there."

Me: "Why don't you look online.  And look at other cars, from other dealers, while you're at it."

Mike: "I know the service manager.  And anyway, I'm just looking."

Two hours later:

Mike, on the phone: "So they have a 2011 Camry here for a great deal because the 2012s are coming in any day now."

He tells me the price, which seems fine.  He tells me the mileage, which was cool.  Says the trunk is huge and there's plenty of legroom and cup holders and air bags, etc., etc..

Then he tells me it's red.

Me: "How red?"

Mike: "I don't know... red."

Me: "Mike, you're a man in your 40s.  You shouldn't be driving a red car.  It'll look like a male mid-life crisis. What other colors do they have?"
He named a strange-sounding green, a silver and the red.

Mike: "What's wrong with red?  I LIKE red.  It's going to be my car, so..."

Me: "It's a sports car color on a mid-size family sedan."

I let Cara in on the situation.

Cara: "It's RED red?? I'm not going in it!  WHY would he get RED?!"

Me: "I don't think he bought it yet.  He was just running the color by us."

Cara: "I swear to God, that color is SO stupid!  It's not even burgundy?  Why would he do this?!?"

We were quickly creating our own code red situation.

A hour later Mike came home to tell me he put $500 down on a car.  The red model.  The next day, he drove up in his new vehicle.  Cara took one look out the window and hid.

Mike: "Okay, who wants to go for a ride in the new car?!"

Cricket... cricket... cricket....

All I know is, when this house needs to be painted, he's not going anywhere near Sherwin Williams....


Saturday, September 03, 2011

The Power of One

I don't know why I don't mind being a "football widow."  I just don't.  At this point in my life, I actually look forward to the season.

I know I'll have the TV to myself on Monday and Thursday nights to watch what I want -- as opposed to "Pawn Stars" or "Storage Wars" or some other male-dominated reality show that does not star George Clooney.

By now, I've spent years entertaining my kids on NFL Sundays.  But these days, they're actually old enough that I don't have to take them out of the house so Mike can concentrate on the games he has to write about.  We just go out to get out of the house.

But I've never understood why women get p.o.'d that their husbands "aren't available" for what amounts to 16 days each year.  Really.  That's all it is.  Of 352 days, 16 Sundays are devoted to NFL football.  Of course, there are the Monday night and Thursday night games.  But they start so late, it's hardly an inconvenience to family time.

On the other hand, I know there are women who have "handy" husbands.  These women keep "Honey Do" lists.  The first time I heard of such a list was about a decade into my relationship with my husband.  And I thought it was quaint.

Me: "Mike, did you ever hear of a 'honey do' list?"

Mike: "Is this some sort of fruit quiz?"

Me: "What?....  No, it has to do with a list of chores and home projects a wife writes up for her husband to do."

Mike: "That's stupid.  Why doesn't the wife just hire somebody?"

So, you see, my Sundays were never spent with Mike hanging sheetrock, scraping wallpaper, or laying sod... or whatever wives have their husbands do.   I can't complain about "losing a day" when Mike's watching football, because he wouldn't do that crap to begin with!

I'm also lucky because my weekends were only briefly  taken up with kids' sports, so I can't complain that Mike's been missing their games.  Actually, those are the moms I really feel sorry for: the women who, weekend in and weekend out sit on bleachers or foldout chairs, watching their child (hopefully) play soccer, football, soft- or baseball or any other kid sport.  And you hope your kid actually plays.  Because it's bad enough giving up hours of your life, but if you don't even get to see your own kid play, well... that's a criminal waste of time!

You can't just leave these kids' events because you won't seem supportive.  You can't yell for your kid to stop picking their nose or swatting at gnats, and "KICK THE BALL!," because that won't seem supportive.  And you definitely can't put your head in your hands and weep, asking aloud, "Dear GOD, when will this game be OVER?!?" because that really won't seem supportive.

Instead, those parents just have to sit there, in heat, rain or cold with their hangovers, or their need to find a park restroom because they're on their fifth cup of coffee from the communal Box o' Joe.  This goes on for hours.  Every single weekend.  Holy crap!

That's why, if you're not in lockdown at a kids sport, and and you can't figure out something to do for  16 days a year while your husband is parked in front of an NFL game, you're not being creative enough.

When my kids were little, I'd take them for pumpkin picking, apple picking and corn maze runs.  These are things Mike would never do on his own so it made sense to drive as far as possible and kill as much time as possible to run through a Sunday.

Now that the kids are older, I can suggest things that are a little different--with the full knowledge that Mike would not feel left out of the fun.  Take, for instance, canoeing in the Meadowlands.  Or down the Passaic River.  Or sailboating on the Hudson.

Mike: "Why would I want to do that?"

Me: "It's something fun and different.  Why WOULDN'T you want to do that?"

Mike: "It's hot.  There's bugs. We wouldn't know what we're doing so there's the possiblity of drowning. How do you even canoe?  The Passaic River is filthy.  ...I can keep going...."

So, I'm thinking some new Sunday activities are in order.  And to all you football widows who are dreading the next four months, I say embrace this time!  You can be outdoorsy, or go shopping for hours at a stretch, or give yourself pampering time or a long gym day.

And if worse comes to worst, and you've climbed every mountain and forged every stream, you can always sit down next to your husband, take a deep breath and ask, "Really, what DOES offsides mean?"  

That just might be the question that brings you closer... to getting kicked out of the living room and shipped off to a long girls' weekend at a spa.  (It's worth a shot!)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Summer Labor

It's the third week of August.  My garden zinnias are high, the mint is bursting -- and this year my kids don't go back to school until Sept. 7!  That's pretty late for them.  Cara and Ryan aren't so much happy for the extra time it gives them to hang out and eat ice pops.  No, they're grateful for the extra time it gives them to do their summer homework.

Ryan, who could possibly be diagnosed with a reading allergy, finally got a book from the public library a week ago for his 6th-grade summer reading.  Usually, there are 40 books to choose from.  This year when we walked in, there were five lonely books on the otherwise empty shelf.  One was about a princess, another was about a boy growing up Chinese.  Ryan chose one with robot zombies from the Imagine Nation.

As cool as robot zombies sound, the book actually has almost 500 pages.  And there's only a couple weeks left to summer.  That shouldn't be a problem for most kids.  However, whenever I tell Ryan to read, he pulls out  his menu of excuses as to why he can't:

"I have a headache."

"My eyes hurt.  I think I played too much Xbox."

"I need to go to my gym!"

"After dinner."

"After this show."

"After I'm done with my shower."

"What did I do--why are you punishing me?!?"

Cara, meanwhile, has assignments for science, history and English.  One of the projects entails reading a  1,000-page book, "Pillars of the Earth."  Cara loves to read.  But from what I gather, this book discusses architectural details in great detail.  For many, many pages at a time... just... architectural details.   She's not impressed.

However, whereas Ryan will use any excuse to get out of reading, Cara will use her need to read to get out of doing anything else.

Me: "Cara, did you clean your room yet?"

Cara: "I have 100 pages to read today!"

Me: "Yesterday you said you had 100 pages left. What is happening?"

Cara: "No, I had to read 100 pages yesterday, and 100 more today, and 100 more tomorrow and do a report, and then I have to...."

Me: "So... the bed... the clothes...?"

Cara: "AAaaagh!"

In just a couple of weeks, the days will be broken up into the morning rat race to get them out, the workday, and then the afternoon/evening activity craziness, with homework hell thrown in for good measure.

Should I pour a minty mojito now or wait 'til I really need it then?

Monday, August 08, 2011

Fish Tales

Ya ever hear the one about the kid who wanted to play a carnival game to win a goldfish?

I have, too.  And I've raised those goldfish.  So guess what?  I've never allowed my kids to play carnival games that involve goldfish prizes EVER AGAIN!

Cut to my son having a sleepover with his aunt and uncle.  Two nice people who wanted to take him to a country fair.  Now, it seems, it's my problem to run around and scare up a fish bowl.  Because my brother let Ryan play, and WIN, a carny game that had a goldfish as the prize!

It's not like my brother doesn't know what's involved in taking care of pets.  He and his wife have two very happy, very healthy Springer Spaniels.  But my brother and his wife are indulgent with their nieces and nephews.  They don't want to slowly and scarily say, "No. God. Damned. WAY!" to any of them.  Because that would be viewed as being mean.  Or fun-sucking.  Traits that have long been ascribed to me by my own kids.

You might say, "Cath, why don't you just use the old goldfish bowl you must have lying around your house?"  Good question.  Because I did, indeed, have to have a goldfish bowl.  In the garage.  Along with a filtered fish aquarium, TWO hamster cages, a tadpole/frog habitat and a hermit crab crabitat.   But somewhere along the way, I came to my senses and said, "These creatures barely get a passing grade as  'pets.'"  So a few years after all those "pets" passed on,  I came to my senses and sold all those "pet homes" at a garage sale.
In the subsequent years, Ryan would beg to play carny games involving fish prizes.

Ry: "I'LL take care of it!"

Me: "Really? You'll scoop the fish out of it's bowl, dump the dirty water out of the bowl, refill it with clean water, add special aquatic drops, and then feed it... on a regular basis?"

Ry: "Wait, what?!  ...I just want to win a fish!!"

Let me just say, when I owned the first two goldfish, I did pretty well with them.  In fact, they lived for two years in a fishbowl on the kitchen counter.  When they died, it was very sad.  They got the full funeral with a burial in the back yard.  Twenty minutes later, the small voice of a wee little Ryan asked, "Can we go to the pet store and get new fish?"

Me, being idiotic, said okay.  Which started a hellish three-week cycle in which no fewer than 10 fish keeled over and died (sometimes within HOURS).  After the first two or six kicked, the pet store told me I needed a real aquarium with a pump filter.  I got the "SUCKER" sticker for free with that purchase. The two goldfish I bought with that purchase seized up after a day or so, so the pet store said I needed to get better fish.  About 45 minutes after bringing them home, one of 'em started listing.  GOOD GOD, THE HORROR!

The kids were turning to me like, "Do something, Mommy!"

I was like, "What in Sam HELL?!?!"

Against all odds, I had kept two carnival goldfish alive in an unfiltered bowl for two years!!  Suddenly, I was going through more fish than a sushi chef.  Mass burials were taking place daily.  After nearly three weeks of this, my kids were ready to charge me with genocide.  I put the collective mess of aquariums, fishbowls, filters, gravel and aqua decor in a sad corner of the garage.

So, yes, for years now I've avoided the fragile creatures.  Hell, I got a cat before taking on the uncertainty of another fish.  Clean water and fresh food, and felines are good to go.  Fish?  Clean water and they die.  Dirty water and they die.  Too much food?  Dead.  They get scared between the pet store and your house?  It's over.

I was hoping my brother's dogs would sniff out the fish before Ryan brought it home.  Instead, my son proudly walked in with not one, but TWO goldfish.  My sister-in-law thought the one would be lonely.  They generously bought Ryan a net, gravel, fish food -- they even let him NAME them!    

So, here's hoping I wake up to fish that aren't listing or doing the dead fish float.  And that my cat hasn't  procured them as a midnight snack....

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Class Act

I went to a high school reunion "after party" recently.  The Class of '81 had its reunion, and then invited other classes to join in after the official event.  See, that's what happens when you're far enough out of high school: people realize the pesky brats from their siblings' grades weren't so bad after all.

It was great, but there's always that awkward moment when you realize you're talking to someone and they have no idea who you are.  Of course, when it's a husband saying this to his wife, the party ends for him real fast.  But I didn't see that happen... very much.

No, there are times when you see someone you know you SHOULD know, but ya don't.  My excuse is my children have destroyed every brain cell possible.  Regular readers of this column also know that and steer clear -- fearing it's contagious.

Name tags are good for these awkward moments.  Although, sometimes that isn't good enough.  I won't name names, but I heard about a conversation that went something like this:

Person 1: "I know I should know you."

Person 2, pointing to name tag: "Yeah, I'm ____ ____."

Person 1: "No, doesn't ring a bell."

Person 2: "I sat on the bus with you every day for four years."

Person 1: "Nope, nothin'."

Person 2: "You dated my brother all of junior year!"

Person 1: "I'm drawing a complete blank."

Person 2: "I hate you."

Actually, I've been told I have a good memory for things that happened back in the day.  My friend Denise always brings this up.

But Denise's husband is less than amazed.

Denise's husband, Jeff: "D, if you don't remember anything, Cath could just be making stuff up and you're believing her.  She could say anything."

Now, Denise doesn't trust a thing out of my mouth, and is demanding I give back the $40 I said she borrowed back in '82.

Seriously, I love a party.  I love bouncing from conversation to conversation.  

 I also like to dance -- many of my friends have seen that action, and the Elaine Benes jokes start flying pretty quickly, I might add.  But there was no dancing at this party.  Instead, there were games -- like horseshoes.  Which I don't play because I'm afraid I'll inflict significant harm upon myself or others.  I humiliated myself enough in high school, I didn't feel the need to revisit that feeling by doing something like chipping a tooth on an iron horseshoe.  In front of the older kids, no less!

Regardless, it was a great time.  And my own class is now trying to organize its reunion.  That gives me  a year to study up on people's names, work on my dance moves and figure out how to throw a horseshoe.  I'm tellin' ya, high school pressure never ends!! 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Courtesy of Your Mom

We've been home from vacation for a week, and I realized it's been that long since I heard a "your mom" joke.

What's a "your mom" joke, you ask?  Your mom's a your mom joke.

You say, that makes no sense.  Your mom makes no sense.

You say, cut it out.  Your mom can cut it out.

Welcome to my vacation, where Ryan would deliver "your mom" bombs into exchanges between the rest of us, all the while distractedly tapping at whatever handheld game he couldn't pry himself from.   Although I'm guessing it made him feel like he was part of the conversation, it was kind of ridiculous considering I'M HIS MOM!

Cara: "Ewww, that guy back there was soo nasty looking."

Ryan: "Your mom's so nasty looking."

Me: "Right here, Ry.  I'm right here."

I asked him if he felt like his jokes weren't losing some of their comedic value, considering I'm 'the mom.'  He alleged they worked just as well.  He's 11, so it seemed unlikely that could actually be true.  Still, Cara and I decided to put the theory to the test.

Ryan: "How long before our food gets here?!  I'm hungry!"

Cara: "Your mom's hungry."

Ryan: "Not funny, Cara."

Me: "Your mom's not funny."

Ry: "STOP IT!!"

Actually, your mom jokes ARE pretty good....

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Game Time

Remember that song, "Pac Man Fever"? Of course, you do!

Although, at this point in your life, the only words you may remember are, "Pac Man Fever... It's driving me crazy."  But if you have kids -- boys in particular! -- you might be inclined to crab, "Xbox Fever, it's driving me crazy!"

My son is afflicted with the dreaded Xbox Fever.  He's had it since he entered the world of Xbox Live.  Only, unlike a real fever, it's still raging after months and months.  And unlike the old school Pac Man Fever, there is no standing involved, no leaning side to side in any kind of physical effort.

No, the modern day Xbox Fever appears to reduce once-healthy, amiable kids that were conversant in multiple topics into immobile drones that can only move their thumbs and ramble incessantly about going to Game Stop.

Ryan: "Mom, I need to go to Game Stop to get Microsoft Points."

Me: "Didn't I just take you there two weeks ago?"

Ryan: "I want to change my gamer tag."

Me: "I don't know what that means."

Ryan: "I want to change my GAMER TAG!"

Now I know how foreigners feel.  The same thing is getting repeated, it still doesn't make sense AND  I'm getting yelled at.

Ryan: "And when we go, you need to stay outside the store.  The guys in there are no-lifes, and I don't want you... you know... talking like, you know...."

Cara: "You're afraid Mom will embarrass you in front of the no-lifes?"

I seriously wasn't sure if I should have been insulted or not.

Apparently, my ignorance about "tags" and "signature editions" and "cheats" is just humiliating when he's around the pro players that haunt any given Game Stop.

Now summer's here.  And despite the fact that I have Ryan in camp, I feared the Fever would take hold as soon as he arrived home every day, gripping him in its throes for a good seven hours until I pried the controller from his hot little hands.

I convinced Mike to put a time limit on the Xbox.  Ryan just got through his first day with a TWO-HOUR time limit.  Seriously, the kid is ready to call social services on us.

Ryan: "My friends think I should get three hours a day for all the nice things I'm doing around here."

Me: "WHAT nice things?"

Ryan: "You know... reading, shooting basketball."

Me: "You read for half an hour, and threw the basketball around for about 12 minutes."

Ryan: "It was more like 15 minutes!  And my friends say I DESERVE three...."

...Xbox Fever, I'm goin' outta my mind!