Competition

“Please don’t hit it to me, please don’t hit it to me, please don’t hit it to me! ” The same thought went through my head every time someone stepped up to the plate when I played softball as a kid. I was usually stuck in right field and for good reason. I am not athletic.   I tried out for a lot of different sports in school, but never made the team. The only time I was on a roster was when my parents paid for it. The summer league can’t cut you from the team. I wasn’t really concerned about winning games. I only cared about the free soda we got from the concession stand after the game. This was way before the food police banned sugar, gluten, carbohydrates, etc.  It was awesome! 

 

I may not have cared about sports, but I was competitive when playing games with my siblings. It got real when the Monopoly board came out. However, I don’t believe I was ever as competitive as my youngest two children. With them, everything is a race. The first one in the house wins. The first one up the stairs wins. My daughter is 5-years-old and my son is 8. They are constantly bickering.   The racing only makes matters worse. They accuse each other of cheating or change the rules once the race is over. They took it to a new level last week when my daughter said, “Whoever licks their hand first wins!”  Whoever licks their hand first wins? What animals am I raising?  I was in the other room and, honestly, I didn’t want to know if my son accepted the challenge. The minute their heads hit the pillow that night I poured a glass of wine and cranked Billie Holiday on my Ipod. I drank the wine out of a fancy new wine glass. It was included in a bag of goodies I received from Oscar Meyer about a week ago. I know the glass is expensive because I made a white trash move and googled the brand.  I couldn’t help it.  The dishes I own were purchased on clearance when Kmart was going out of business.  That’s what happens when you don’t have a registry  and your maid of honor is the secretary at the court house. 

I still remember the words to the Oscar Meyer commercial.  I can’t remember why I walked into a room, but I can belt out that song.  

 

My Bologna has a first name,
It’s O-S-C-A-R.
My bologna has a second name,
It’s M-A-Y-E-R.
Oh, I love to eat it every day,
And if you ask me why I’ll say,
Cause’ Oscar Mayer has a way with B-O-L-O-G-N-A!
  

Every Thursday was sandwich night at our house when I was growing up.  That was the day my dad went grocery shopping. We ate Oscar Meyer Bologna or ham and American Cheese on white bread.  We also got to have potato chips.  It was simple and inexpensive. I have such fond memories at that kitchen table.  

The bag from Oscar Meyer was part of its #Sanewich (Get it?) promotion.  It included slippers and a pair of noise cancelling headphones by Bose.  Where have they been for the past 15 years?  I am going to put those suckers on the next time there is a hand licking competition in my house. 

*for the record Oscar Meyer sent me a care package for free.   They did not ask me to write a blog post, but it was too good not to share. The only thing I ever got for free was an appetizer at Applebee’s when the waitress missed her greet time. 

 

Bad boys, bad boys…

I got pulled over this morning by a cop on a bike.  This was not an episode of “Chips.”  He was on a bicycle.  A police officer on a mountain bike  stopped me in my vehicle.   He made the siren noise with his mouth.   No, not really, but that would’ve been funny.  I was at a stop sign, about six cars from the crosswalk, waiting for the crossing guard to guide some young lads to the other side.   When I grow up I want the confidence of a crossing guard.   She has no fear.   She wears that neon jacket with pride and stops cars like a boss.  Of course, elementary school children don’t care about the long line of cars waiting for them to pass.   They have no sense of time which is why 90% of a parent’s time is spent telling them to put on their shoes.  I knew these kids were going to practically crawl across the street. So, I allegedly grabbed my phone  to send a quick text to arrange a ride home for my son.  It was at that moment that a police officer pedaled up to the passenger’s side window.   I smiled.  He did not.  Erik Estrada would have grinned.   Instead, he motioned for me to put down the window.  He actually made a circular motion with his hand.   Clearly, he grew up in the 80s. As the window was ‘winding down’ he barked orders,   “You need to pull over!”  I thought he was kidding.  “Seriously?”   He was  a drill sergeant on a Schwinn.  “I am serious ma’am, pull over!”   Okay, now I was pissed.  Not only was I going to be late to work, but he just ma’am-ed me?  People driving by were laughing and pointing.

This is an artist rendering of the traffic stop:

A friend sent me this text message.

The conversation with the police officer went like this….

Me:   “You don’t have anything better to do than stop a mom in a minivan,” I said.  I have a habit of not knowing when to shut up.  “When you are done with this why don’t you peddle over to the known drug houses in town and arrest actual criminals.” 


Officer
: “License and registration, please.” 


Me:  “You have got to be kidding me!  I wasn’t even moving.  You are on a bicycle. You were stopped right next to me.   Just so you know, I am going to take a picture of your bike and we will see how this holds up in court.”


I had diahrea of the mouth.  Honestly, I would have been in the wrong if I was doing what he alleged. I respect and appreciate the hard work of the men and women in law enforcement. I didn’t know this is the law in New York State :

  • An operator of a commercial motor vehicle who holds a portable electronic device in a conspicuous manner while such vehicle is temporarily stationary because of traffic, a traffic control device, or other momentary delays is presumed to be using the device


At the same time, that was a ‘nickname for Richard’ move on his part.  He ran my license over his walkie talkie.  In the end, he did not give me a ticket.  Maybe he didn’t have any in his fanny pack.  He warned me to drive carefully and hopped  on his bike.   He actually stood as he pedaled away.  He didn’t even pop a wheelie. You are no Erik Estrada, sir.  

Funny farm

I am not perfect.  I know, it may come as a shock to many of you.  I forget things.  If you ask my children’s teachers they will tell you that I forget a lot of things.  I just remembered that I signed up to be chaperone for a school field trip to a farm.  I’m sure that is real comforting for the parents of the children I will be guiding around a large tractor and hay bailer.  Perhaps, I blocked out the trip because of the location. Don’t get me wrong,  I appreciate a hard working farmer.  I appreciate food that comes from farms, but why in the hell would I volunteer to chaperone a trip to a farm in June?  I am sweating just thinking about it.

I don’t sweat because I am morbidly obese.  It’s the hormones.  Millie Vanilli blamed it on the rain.  I blame it on the hormones.  Don’t get me wrong, I won’t be walking the runway anytime soon.  (Apparently, it’s not a good idea to eat handfuls of candy in bed minutes before you fall asleep.)  Nor will I be a hand model.  I have a crooked finger.  I broke my pinkie moving a couch.   It’s a long story.  Do you have time?  Actually, to summarize, I was moving the couch with someone, got mad and said, “I will do it myself.”  My finger thought that was a bad idea.   I race my children to urgent care when they sneeze.   I would duct tape my own limb before scheduling an appointment  with the doctor.  I don’t have the time.  So, I went to a drug store and bought a splint.  It turns out doctors go to medical school for a reason.  This is how it healed:

I should see a doctor to reset it, but the idea of intentionally breaking a finger sounds worse than an annual gynecological exam and that doctor uses what looks like BBQ tongs in your vagina.  (Take a minute process that one gentleman.  Yes, we earn the right to complain.) I suppose it could be worse.  I could be ‘the kid with the baby foot hand.’  Who is that you ask?  A co-worker (who shall remain nameless, but simply adores me) shared the story today of ‘the kid with the baby foot hand.’ No, this isn’t a Stephen King novel.  He went to school with ‘the kid with the baby foot hand.’  My co-worker claims it is true and he is a trustworthy guy.  Apparently, ‘the kid with the baby foot hand’ was injured by a lawn mower as a toddler.  He lost his foot and the hand was beyond repair. According to the story, the doctor sewed his baby foot on to his arm.   So, he grew to be ‘the teenager with a baby foot hand’ and eventually ‘the man with the baby foot hand.’  I would imagine one would relive that traumatizing day every time he opens an app with a baby toe.  I am skeptical and rightly so.    Perhaps, it was just a tall tale made up by a child born with a deformity.  If that is the case, that kid is brilliant and has a good sense of humor. If the story is legit then the doctor who performed the surgery needs to be sent to the ‘funny farm’ and I won’t be volunteering for that field trip.

Rock, paper, scissors 

I have a new hatred for the paper gowns at a doctors office.  I sat in an exam room with an 8-year-old patient for 45 minutes.   My son was scheduled for a checkup.  It would have been a stress-free appointment had it not been for the constant rustling of the gown.    Like most children, he cannot sit still.   It’s no secret that I suffer from Misophonia.  A crisp apple can send me over the edge.   Being in a 10 x 10 room with a child in a paper gown is pure torture.  I was on the verge of ripping the damn thing off him when the doctor strolled in like she wasn’t nearly an hour behind schedule.   I wanted to scream,  “Where the hell have you been?”  I bit my tongue.

There are a lot of things I would change about a doctor’s office beginning with the music.   I don’t expect the pediatrician to play Wu-Tang Clan, but enough with the Soft Rock.   Even Phil Collins doesn’t want to hear A Groovy Kind of Love anymore.  It only makes the time drag and conjures up bad memories of middle school.  I was like countless teenage girls who sat in their rooms in the late 80s crying over a boy while listening to Phil Collins on a cassette player. You didn’t play a Phil Collins song to get pumped for the big game or when using your thigh master.  Phil helped you cry it out.

I could also do without the broken toys, books that are missing pages and magazines from 1998 in the waiting room.   Take my $35 co-pay and renew your subscription.  Furthermore, if you’re going to have a tv on the wall put some cartoons on it.   Watching a busty anchor read an infomercial on heartburn medicine isn’t a good distraction for a child who is about to get a flu shot.  She is almost as annoying as a paper gown.  Almost.

Mother’s Day is over

“You know Mother’s Day is over right?” My 8-year-old son made that clear first thing this morning.  The egg, drums and golf are celebrated for an entire month. Even vinegar gets thirty days.  The person responsible for bringing a life into the world gets 24 hours and that’s it.  Sure, for about a week, we try to use the holiday to guilt our children into behaving. Unfortunately,  the uterus doesn’t have the same magical power as an imaginary obese man in a red velvet suit.  

Television ads give us such false hope about Mother’s Day.  The pretend mom in the Kmart commercial looks so relaxed on her new patio furniture.  The mother in the Walmart commercial is rested and has all the Faded Glory shirts her heart desires.  The woman in the CVS commercial is being pampered with a box of chocolate and laundry detergent.  This is going to be great!   We buy it hook, line and sinker.    I won’t have to do anything that day.  

My children let me sleep in an extra 10 minutes.   They offered to cook breakfast, but I knew I would have to clean up.  So, we let Tim Horton and Ronald McDonald cook for us.   I saw countless photos on Facebook of mothers “enjoying” brunch at a fancy eatery.  The food may have been hot and delicious, but going to a restaurant with three children is exhausting.  

I spent most of the day in Yoga pants.  I still cleaned and did laundry.   I received a pair of fabulous shoes and an espresso machine from my baby daddy.  My teenage son woke up at 11 a.m.  That’s early for him.   My daughter gave me a beautiful card and seeds she planted in a plastic container.  “We need to water the plant,” I said a few hours after she presented it to me.  My daughter took a deep breath and replied, “But I gave it to you.  It’s yours now.”  So much for not having to do anything.  The truth is I like taking care of them.  I like feeling needed.  

As mothers we are constantly doubting ourselves.   With all the whining, crying, complaining and fighting we must be doing something wrong.  It often seems like nobody appreciates what we do. Then, one day a year we get things like this: 



  

And we carry on doing the job only a mother can do.   If my son loves me with that bad haircut and only four fingers I am doing something right.  

Surprise!

Some friends come and go in your life.   You make friends at the playground when you’re a toddler.  The relationship lasts until your mother decides it is time to leave.  You think someone is your best friend in kindergarten because they sit at your table.  In third grade you asked someone to be your best friend.   The friendship is legit if you walk around with “St   End” around your neck.   
  

In grades six through eight you make additional friends, but struggle fit in.   Many of those people will be in your circle throughout high school.   Some will fade from the picture when you leave for college.  I don’t think you truly value friendship until you become an adult.  

It is no secret that I struggled with turning 40.   I focused on the negative things: flabby stomach, less than perky breasts and a forehead that looks like a four lane highway.  It turns out none of that matters when you have a good plastic surgeon or good friends.   I have really good friends.  They surprised me this weekend with a trip to New York City to celebrate my birthday.   We tossed around the idea, but I was told the trip wasn’t happening.  They had me fooled.  The doorbell rang at 7 a.m on Saturday.   I answered the door, bra-less and wearing a scrunchie in my hair.  (You can take the girl out of the 90s, but cannot take the 90s out of the girl.)   They were smiling ear to ear as they announced their plan to kidnap me for the weekend.   Once I woke up and understood what they did I got teary eyed.  Who am I kidding? I cried.  They planned this extrordinary trip and coordinated child care. They did it for me.   These women have been by my side through love and loss.  We cheer for one another when times are good and lift each other up when they are bad; and there have been some really awful times in our lives.  They are caring, honest and loyal.   

We had an amazing trip.  There wasn’t a moment of silence in the five hour car ride.   

  
We reminisced and shared new stories. Truth be told, there were some things I wish I hadn’t learned. We laughed and laughed until our bellies hurt.  
  

They thought of everything.  

  
We went to dinner at a restaurant that doesn’t have crayons or balloons.  
 

  
We drank beverages that didn’t require a lid. 

  
  
 We watched an amazing Broadway show that didn’t include a cartoon character.  

     

     
 

We ran in Central Park on a beautiful spring morning.   
  

It was perfect.   
  

It turns out 40 is fabulous because  I have something at 40 that I didn’t have at 20 – true friendship.   I wouldn’t trade it for all the cellulite cream in the world.   

  

What the PARP?

It is PARP Reading Month(s) at my child’s school. Until one minute ago I had no idea what PARP stood for.  According to Google, it means “Parents As Reading Partners.”  Basically, the idea is to encourage parents to read with their kids.  We do that everynight, but I have to play along.  The children are supposed to bring in a slip of paper, about the size of a credit card, everyday indicating how many minutes they read the previous night.   The school sends home a booklet of these ‘reading slips.’  It is up to the parent to cut them out and place in their folder each morning. 
  
The note that came with the PARP packet might as well have said, “Here is something you will forget on a daily basis.    You will spend 20 minutes looking for scissors to cut out each slip.  Then, you will scribble your initials on the paper. Your child will criticize your handwriting.  After a few weeks you will forget about this program altogether because you have responsibilities that actual matter in life. You will lose the packet.  Your child will nag you in the afternoon about forgetting the slip of paper. At that point, you will email your child’s teacher asking for a replacement accepting the fact that she probably thinks you are a terrible parent.  Have fun!”

I forget from time to time.   Last week, I forgot to pack my son a juice box.  He took me on a guilt trip.   He had to drink water after eating his peanut butter sandwich.  Gasp.   There are children in this world that don’t have the ability to buy peanut butter by the gallon young man!   I have forgotten field trips and money for book fairs.  I missed “Pajama Day” last week at my daughter’s school.  She told her teacher she was wearing her ‘fancy pajamas.’ She had on a sweater.  She told a friend she didn’t have any clean pajamas.  Translation: my mom is lazy and we live in filth.  I don’t have an excuse.   I just forgot.  I am happy if I manage to get my children to school on time, fed and clothed.  Their homework is done.  We read every night.  What more do you damn people want from me?  Nobody said anything in the ‘Parenting for Dummies’ book about small slips of paper.  “But you can win a bike Mommy,” said my daughter.  That’s right.  The school takes all of these PARP slips, throws them in a box and draws one to win a prize.  One. They choose one child in the entire school.   I can’t wait for that day to come.  I am sure my daughter is going to be a-okay losing the drawing.  Perhaps, I will forget to send her to school that day.   

Razor-sharp battle

I recall, as a teenage girl, the embarrassment I felt when I got hair on my legs.   I was like an overwatered Chia Pet.  I’m certain that if my mother didn’t finally give in and buy me a razor I would’ve looked like a Yeti by the  8th grade.  Women will and do spend a lot of money to get rid of unwanted hair.  Men, however, come up with any reason possible to grow it.  A playoff beard?  The only game you’re playing is “Game of War” on your iPhone 5s, hoping to get a sneak peak at Kate Upton’s animated breasts.  You’re not even going to the playoffs as a spectator.   Yet, every hockey and baseball season you turn into a lumberjack.  What’s the deal? Most men don’t even care if they have hairy chests or backs.  Well, most straight men.   My gay friends are smooth as butter with bodies that you won’t find in suburbia.  Quite frankly, it’s not fair.   

A man’s love of facial hair begins during his pubescent years.  It is new and exciting, but just  because you can finally do something doesn’t mean you should.  The message falls on deaf ears.  If you stand outside a high school on any given day you will see a parade of Burt Reynolds wannabes with braces wearing Hollister sweatshirts.   I had to break the news to my son that a mustache is not cool on anyone, but grandpa. My father has had one all my life.  I grew up during a different time.   Plus, at this point he looks weird without it.    I have never heard a young woman say to her friend, “Hey, look at that hot guy with the stashe!”  

  
There are a lot of things teenagers say, do and wear that will drive you crazy.   I hate the tube sock trend.   Who thought that was a good idea?  Next thing you know kids will be wearing white New Balance sneakers.   I don’t get why anyone would want to suffocate their ankles with tube socks, but I tolerate it.  My daughter loves to wear bedazzled shirts.   I prefer not to dress like a craft store threw up on me, but I allow her to express herself.   My middle child walked around every day for a year wearing superhero shirts.  It pained me.  I let him be.   I draw the line at a mustache.  I will not let my son leave the house looking like he is about to get in a conversion van and cruise the strip.   If he wants to look creepy when he is older that is up to him.  Hell, who am I kidding?  I will buy him razors then, too.  

Lordy, Lordy

I can clearly recall being a kid and reading a classified ad in the newspaper that read “Lordy, Lordy Suzanne is 40!”  

For those of you in your twenties, a newspaper was where we got our news before the internet was invented.  Articles, cartoons and even an advice column were printed on paper.  The print was bold and perhaps something like Sans Serif.  No, a newspaper did not have Siri.    

 Below the cheesy birthday poem was a grainy black and white photograph of a woman named Suzanne.  Let’s just say the years were not good to her or she wasn’t good for forty years.  At the time, the woman in that photograph seemed so old to me. Her skin looked like a broken-in baseball mitt.  Her hair was course and unkept. Come on,  was that really the best picture they could find of Suzanne?  Hundreds of people would see that photograph and know Suzanne was over the hill.    Fast forward and there is no need to place a classified ad.  Facebook advertises your birthday for you.   I thought about removing a birthdate on my profile, hoping the day would quietly pass by.  It’s unavoidable.  Friends would post on my wall anyway.  Then, other friends would get nervous that they forgot the date and post their wishes.  Then, the kid who sat catty corner to me in 7th grade biology would follow suit.   Then, the toll booth worker I befriended would give me a shout out and so on and so forth.   In fact, you could put the wrong birthdate on your profile and I guarantee people would still wish you a Happy Birthday.
 
So, here it is.    I will no longer be in my thirties tomorrow.  I spent the past few weeks feeling sorry for myself.    There is a good chance, given my family’s medical history, that I have lived more than half of my life.  Over and over again people tried to cheer me up by saying,  “Forty is the new 30.”   Then, it hit me.   Forty is nothing like 30 or even 20 and that is a good thing.   There is something I have at 40 that I didn’t a decade or two ago: appreciation.  I appreciate the parents that bothered me in my teenage years.  I realize how lucky I am to have that incredible support system.  I appreciate the family I come home to every night.   I appreciate the incredible friendships I have formed.  I know  my made up friendship with Ryan Gosling doesn’t count.  I have friends to laugh, cry and occasionally dance like fools with.   I appreciate  little things like a good meal, someone holding the door for me, my child’s giggle and the smell of fresh cut grass.  I appreciate gifts because now I know it takes hard work to get a paycheck.  I am grateful that someone would spend any of that money on me.   I also value handmade gifts that come from the heart.  Don’t get me wrong, I would enjoy a pair of Christian Louboutins more than crocheted slippers, but I appreciate the thought.    Most of all, I appreciate being loved.  I’m not talking about the kind of love I had for Kirk Cameron, Kenny Rogers or any other Tiger Beat pinup on the wall in my childhood bedroom. You read that right.  I had a crush on Kenny Rogers.  We are still working to get to the bottom of that in therapy.
 
 I don’t take anything for granted.   I appreciate moments in life that, as a teenager or twenty-something, you allow to pass by without giving a second thought.   With age comes wisdom, inner peace and wrinkles, but luckily there is Botox for that.  Lordy, Lordy someone should have told Suzanne that when she was 40.   

Guessing Game

I am convinced my children were game show hosts in a past life.   They are constantly making me guess things, but there is never a prize.  Every statement begins with one question: “Guess what?”  I am at a disadvantage. I would have to be the ‘Long Island Medium’ to guess correctly and that’s impossible because my curling iron retired in the 1990s.

I recently jotted down some of the interesting things that followed after my children said, “Guess what?”  Well, that’s a lie.  I didn’t jot anything.  Who jots anymore? We keep notes on our phones.   ‘I typed on my phone’ just doesn’t have the same ring to it.   Anyway, here are a few of my favorites:

“Guess what?” …..

“What?”  (Children will speak out of turn on a regular basis, but they won’t finish a sentence unless you say ‘What’ until you are blue in the face)
….. “The caterpillar hatched at school.”  

How the hell was I supposed to guess that?  A minute ago we were talking about the character you unlocked on Lego Batman.  Plus, I thought caterpillars were cut from the Common Core curriculum.  

“Guess what?   (While eating dinner) ….. You have silver hairs on top of your head.”

Tell me something I don’t know kid.  

“Guess what?  (While playing with the Barbie Dream House)  …..  This Barbie’s mom is dead.  She wasn’t nice. ”  

Is she threatening me?  Did she see this tactic on an episode of the Sopranos? 


“Guess what?  ….. I slept in the corner of my bed.”

Damn it, I was going to guess you slept in the middle.  It’s a good thing I didn’t place any money on that bet.  



“Guess what? …... I just burped and it tasted like the cheese I had for lunch”

 I  believe that is why the hashtag “TMI” was invented.  


“Guess what? ……  I don’t really like those meatballs”

I could never have guessed that judging by the tantrum you threw 30 minutes ago when I told you I was making spaghetti and meatballs.  Well, guess what?  I don’t like cooking them.  How about we do a little experiment where you try to survive off the land?  


“Guess what? ……. I ate the grapes you packed in my lunch today.”

Well, I didn’t pack it as a decoration.  I am pleased.  Especially since I found out you throw out most of the food in your lunch box.   Let’s skip the middleman and I will throw my paycheck directly in the garbage can every two weeks.  I don’t mind that I’m using my Botox funds to buy overpriced snacks that go to waste.

 
“Guess what? ….. “Doug” (withholding child’s actual name to protect myself)  got a red card today.”  


Was he playing soccer or misbehaving?   I would never have guessed that because I don’t know “Doug.”  I couldn’t pick him out of a line up and judging by his behavior that may be a possibility one day.  


“Guess what?….. someone got mud on the floor in the hallway at school.”

I  hope they launch an investigation and find the criminal responsible.