“Would you like a mini-pizza hors d’oeuvres?” is what I said. “Would you like a mini-pizza or derv?” is what he heard. Temerarious seven year-old that he is, he boldly chose “derv”.
Yep, that’s kid #2, demonstrating an insouciantly elegant wipeout. No big splashes or wild arm waving, merely slipping beneath the water at a 90 degree angle to the surface of the earth and precisely 180 degrees opposite of where he really should be. Spent the past week at the shore, watching kids 1-3 wipe out on surfboards and skateboards while I wiped out doing high-risk things like walking and standing. When not falling down, I spent a lot of time in the water, wondering what it is about the ocean that seems so restorative and rejuvenating. Does bobbing about in the salty waves bring us back to a time of non-sentient innocence, cocooned from all the world’s sharp edges in an amniotic sac? Is the composition of the water so similar to our own salinity that we become one with the water? I don’t know about all that, but I do know that it’s working for me.
Working from home today and overheard my 7 year-old and his buddies talking about what workouts could “actually give you a 6-pack!” Huh? Since when are 7 year old boys concerned with 6-packs? Since when do they know about 6-packs? And why are they sitting on a trampoline and talking about workouts rather than working out on the trampoline – I thought that behavior was reserved for people like me, middle-aged suburbanites who like to talk about exercise over dinner and drinks.
Boyd Martin and Phillip Dutton, to be exact. At the Millbrook Horse Trials at Coole Park Farm. I was stationed in the sand pit, which is exactly as glamorous as it sounds. My partner, who was better versed than me in dressage and the world of eventing by about 2000%, was all of 11 years old. It was our job to tell the competitors when it was time to wrap up their warm-up and head over to the arena. So yes, I actually exchanged words with Olympians Boyd Martin and Phillip Dutton! To Boyd, I said, “Excuse me, they’re ready for you.” He replied, “I don’t think it’s my time yet and I’d like to get a little trot going first.” I retorted (meekly), “They’ll be ready whenever you’re ready,” and gave a little curtsy. Well I told him! I can’t explain the curtsy, except that I was confused and mortified. And he had just returned from London so…oh, forget it! Boyd has become a bit of a pin-up in the horsey world, a cross that his wife Silva bears with grace. He couldn’t have been more approachable and friendly though, and in fact, he was far more approachable and decent than most of the beginner novices I interacted with. Though I suppose a BN has a far worse case of the nerves. I didn’t mention to Boyd that he has ruined my chances of ever owning a horse — according to my dear hubby, if an Olympian can ride a $850 horse, so can I. Bleh.
I told Phillip Dutton where to go, too, and when. It was his time, so he said, “Thank you.” I hoped he didn’t remember that the last time we spoke, I had fallen directly on my head not more than five minutes into the lesson he was teaching. Luckily for me, he meets about a million people a day and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has fallen on their head in his presence. The sweetest moment of the day, other than the little girl riding a palomino pony named Angel (she insisted the pony was, indeed angelic, but that’s the first I’ve ever heard of a pony without a nasty Napoleon complex) was when Phillip Dutton’s family came over to the ring and his kids all screamed “Hi Daddy!” He immediately stopped what he was doing and beelined for his wife and children. He gets a gold in the dad and husband Olympics, the most important Olympics of all.
The photography in the July 13 NYT Sunday Magazine essay was breathtaking; romantic images of childcare providers and their charges. Almost as romantic as the writer’s notion that the reason babysitters/nannies/childcare providers are so poorly paid is because mothers feel guilty about the transaction; paying someone to love their child — whom they have (presumably) chosen not to — at least during business hours. What’s the excuse, then, for why mothers are not paid at all when they choose to stay home and love their children themselves, 24-7? Honestly, I don’t think there’s a mother, in the home or out of the home full-time or part-time, who could claim to love her children 24-7 – but that’s another matter entirely. The low pay isn’t a function of guilt — it’s a function of childcare being (traditionally) women’s work. And women’s work isn’t valued, even though we are charged with raising the world’s next generation, and by extension, making sure the world survives another hundred years or so (now there’s some guilt).
We all know the story of how typing was a well-paid position, held by men, when typewriters — complex, mechanical instruments — were first introduced. Once it was discovered that women could type and that they could do it better and faster than men (thank you, manual dexterity, for my exceptional typing skills and my unique ability to remove a dried pea from a 2-yr old’s nose) it became a typing “pool” — nameless, faceless, devoid of any individuality or humanity — and populated almost entirely by low-paid single women who were treading water while waiting for their knight in shining armor to appear. The message is clear: if a woman can do it, it isn’t worth jack.
I love my job, but no one pays me to love it – I get paid to do it. Period. The idea that we don’t pay women to take care of our children because we feel guilty buying love is not only delusional, it’s insulting. I chose my career. So did my babysitter. She deserves the same respect and renumeration accorded to all professionals. I don’t pay her to love, I pay her to keep my children clothed, fed and safe; and that she does, far better than I can. There are women who are paid to “love” but the job description is quite different and their clients aren’t children (though they do sometimes wear diapers) and the price that all involved pay is far greater.
The holidays bring out the best in me, if you consider irrational expectations, erratic overbuying of useless and unwanted gifts and crying jags, the best of me. Which they very well may be. When child number three was suddenly having difficulty breathing, unable to speak, but looking at me with horror, pointing at his throat and mouthing the words, “help me,” I did what any panicked, overdramatic mother would do — I called 911. His breathing was restored to a normal rate and I had him calmed down in enough time to cancel the 911 call. I won’t give you the actual stopwatch time this required, because that would be embarrassing. Let’s just say I hadn’t yet counted to sixty. We did go to the pediatrician and luckily, for my dignity anyway, Kid 3 had another episode on the exam table — lucky because the ped couldn’t dismiss me as an insane overprotective helicopter mother, which I am, just not this particular time. My six-year old, 30 pound son perched on the edge of the table, stared straight ahead and said, “I’m not gonna make it, am I?” Huh? What the hell is this kid watching when I’m not at home? Back-to-back episodes of House? I assured him that he would “make it” but he didn’t buy it. I told the doc the kid was worried about making it and the doc told him too that he would, indeed, make it. “No! I’m not gonna make it — how do you know?” the little cherub snarled. Doc did a strep test, which consists of jamming a q-tip as far down a kid’s throat as possible. Kid screamed and when doc left the room to run the test, kid said, “He’ll never get it out — it’s in there forever,” What’s in there forever? I asked cherub — “The rattle! The rattle you told him I have in my chest!” Ohhh. Remind me to use more abstract descriptions in the future. We marched out of the office to get cherub’s prescription filled. “I’m not supposed to take drugs,” he informed me. Okay. But I can.
Next day, less than 24 hours later, Kid 2 dared himself to drink hot sauce and since he’s a guy that never turns down a dare, even when he is the source of the dare, he put the bottle to his lips and started chugging. It was so hot that when he pulled the bottle away from his face, he started jumping up and down. Let me emphasize, when he pulled the still open bottle from his lips, he started boinging around the room, spraying hot sauce everywhere, but especially directly into his little eyeballs. Much screaming and careening, blinded, ensued. I resisted calling 911, instead calling my ER nurse mother while shouting at my daughter to google “tabasco in eyes” and throwing glasses of water in the direction of my son as he caromed. Kid 3 helpfully shouted, “New house rule, new house rule! No jumping with open hot sauce!” Happy holidays to the 911 operators and ER nurses everywhere.
if only that’s the way our trips to grandmother’s house would go. But no, our most recent sojourn to Mimi’s place was a lot more like “over the Throg’s Neck and through the puke.” Allow me to explain.
On a sweltering summer day, I decided that it was high time for me, stay-at-home-mom that I have become, to take the kids to grandma’s house for a relaxing visit and swim in their pool. Ha! Loaded all three kids, all of the swimming and relaxing and distracting accoutrements each of them required and added the two dogs. Our own loving and beloved spaniel mix and our current foster puppy, who I am now convinced is not a Golden Lab and Beagle mix as we were told, but a Pit Bull-Jack Russell cross. He is very affectionate, but – well, yesterday I turned around and he was standing on top of the kitchen table. Anyway, said foster puppy was highly reluctant to enter the mini-van, so I added all sorts of toys, treats, bones, etc to entice him in. And yes, I did take water and food away from both dogs about an hour before we were scheduled to leave, to avoid any bodily function disasters. On the dogs’ part, anyway.
10 minutes into the trip and just as we entered the bumper-to-bumper traffic that precedes the Throg’s Neck Bridge, an unmistakable and overwhelming odor wafted through the van. Everyone under the age of 21 began screaming, crying and mock-retching while I exploded into an unprecedented (even for me) string of expletives. Everyone in that car can now make sailors blush on four different continents (not that they couldn’t before).
Pile of dog poop on the back seat, quickly followed by and even larger pile of dog puke. I jumped the curb, pulled onto the median and no, our 6 year-old Honday Odyssey mini-van is not 4-wheel drive, so I had no idea if we’d ever make it out again. I found some old newspapers and plastic bags and with 6 trial-size bottles of Purell, managed to clean up the worst of the mess. Got back in the van, fought our way off the median and into traffic. Every other driver was screaming at me and honking their horns, and I screamed back, until my youngest said “I know why they’re yelling at us! The back door is open!” Yeah, mom of the year drove over the Throg’s Neck with the rear hatch wide open. Luckily, no children, animals or prized possessions were lost, though their innocence certainly was.
Mouse update: dead and flattened mouse seen in location of release. Ironically, flattened mouse appeared to be running back in the direction of our home. Don’t tell me he didn’t know a good thing when he saw it!
Off – that’s what I meant – getting laid off. Though one of the upsides of getting laid off is that you have a lot more time to get laid. Provided you can maintain your self-esteem and hygiene to a level acceptable by other humans. Six days without a shower and in the same stained sweats may leave you at the same pre-laid off frequency of getting laid.
My initial concern was not getting laid, but reducing my own payroll, ASAP. So I laid off the babysitter and the housekeeper and considered laying off the lawn guys until I thought about how I handled myself around a cotton candy machine. I decided that the lawn guys are one service worth their weight in limbs not lost. They’ve got job security in our household.
My daughter has decided that I should start writing young adult fiction, though when it comes to writing fiction, I prefer horror. She insists that I write a horsey story. I think there’s a way to combine the two, though maybe not for the 9-11 set.
My middle son was very worried and wanted to know how many thousands of dollars less we’ll have. Youngest son was thrilled to learn that I would take him to school, pick him up from school and be available at all times to search for lost things. My prediction? Within two weeks I’ll be stationed at my bedroom window with the kids’ bb gun and a thermos of coffee, shooting at the rabbits when they try to eat my vegetable garden. Just to scare ’em.
Or tried to — who knew cotton candy could be dangerous? Certainly not I, except that being 99% sugar and 1% various artificial and toxic non-foodstuffs, it will wreak havoc on my teeth, which is a sore spot already (for me, anyway). My kids’ elementary school has an annual fund-raising spring fair. I’ve been in charge of the fund-raising brochure the past few years, which consists of six months of begging friends, family and strangers for money to support the under-privileged children of Scarsdale NY. Hmmm.
1 1/2 hours into my 3 hour commitment and my husband peers into the machine and says, “you’d better be careful — I’m serious!” Ha, ha, ha hubby! you are so funny! It’s a hot, sunny day, long line of kids waiting for their floaty confection, kids asking for change, someone else telling me about why she prefers soda in a can, etc, etc. I spy a big glob of cotton candy at the bottom of the drum which is preventing me from creating the perfect cone of spun sugar joy, so I shove my hand in to pluck it out and AAAAAAAAA!!!!!
yeah — kids traumatized, cotton candy booth shut down, my finger nail ripped off (and then sewn back on), broken finger and nine stitches. Best part: nurse on duty screaming louder than me — “I don’t do emergencies!!!!!! I’m just supposed to treat kids with skinned knees!”
That was Saturday. Today, Tuesday, I had phase two of my gum surgery — skin cut from my palate was grafted onto my lower gums. About a thousand stitches in my mouth. No pain killers to go. I’ve got more stitches than a Raggedy Ann doll, plus all the nerve endings of an almost alive and kicking human being. Good thing hubby bought a case of wine last week.
If you know my daughter, you know she’s extremely tenacious and determined. Those are euphemisms for being a world-class nag. She was scheduled to get braces on Tuesday and our babysitter was taking her (so I could go to work – bleh!). Kid became fixated on how the babysitter would get her there, relentlessly texting and calling me all day so I could give the babysitter directions. I chose to ignore her. Hubby called me urgently at night class, cuz kid #2 realized he had a homework assignment that required the printer ink we had just run out of. Out of class at 10pm, en route to Target for the ink. Kid still texting, calling and being really freakin’ annoying. Just as I got back into the van after getting the (wrong) ink, she texted again. Since I was in a locked mini van in the Target parking lot at 11pm, I started screaming at the phone, “Leave me alone!!!!!!!!!! AAAAAAAAAA!!!!!” Isn’t that what you would do? While squeezing the life out of my BlackBerry and screaming my guts out, I inadvertently called my husband. Knowing that I was at Target in the middle of the night and screaming, he logically concluded that I was being assaulted. I slipped the BB into my pocket and as I pulled out, it rang. Assumed it was the kid, so screamed some more and when I finally took a breath I heard my husband’s very soft, very concerned voice saying, “honey, what’s going on?” Oops. I don’t know which is more mortifying – my husband knowing that I scream at my phone, or knowing that I sit in locked cars in empty parking lots, screaming to myself.
|LEAVE ME ALONE!!!!!! AAAAAAAAA!!!!|