Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Post Where I Bash Men... (love you, Mark!!!)

So, I was talking to my friend yesterday, and she was telling me about how her fiance (who shall remain nameless so he doesn't know she is complaining about him to her girlfriends all day long) carried in her work laptop into their apartment the prior evening so that he could use it, and then he forgot to tell her it was in their apartment, and then forgot to get it in the morning, therefore making her insanely late when she commuted all the way to her office and promptly had to turn around and go all the way back home to get it. And, hearing this story, I wondered... how is it our capable men, successful and able to function at work, can be such nincompoops at home (love you, Mark!!!!)???

I wrote about Mark's condition once here, and it occurred to me yesterday after talking to Amoh (names have been changed to protect the guilty), that is it true of most men... and I devised a theory.

I think that these men are actually quite bright. I think they are capable, and I know for a fact that when Mark steps outside this door for work purposes, he is. He can manage it, fix it, do whatever the nerd world of IT men do, and do it well. But, when he steps back into family mode.... something happens (love you, Mark!). And I think it is the fact that he married a super smart and capable woman (good taste, Mark!). I think Nayr (Amoh's fiance) is doing the same thing. Once these men hitch their home lives to capable women, they are magically transported back to the last time they were hitched to capable women... THEIR MOTHERS. Suddenly they morph back into "care for me" mode coupled with "I will happily do what you tell me to, you just have to ask several times and remind me a lot" mode. Not unlike their behavior at home with their mothers. Obedient, not take charge.

Here's an example. Last night, Mark kindly went to CVS to get my prescription refill and get cash for Tabbi who needed it for school. Mark comes home. Cash goes on the counter. We head upstairs to bed, and I get ready for bed missing only my pill I pop at bedtime (thyroid disease, not drug addiction... FYI). I ask where it is... and he looks at me and says, "uh... CVS." So, basically he went to CVS, got cash, forgot prescription. I questioned why he would think going to CVS to get just cash made sense, and he said, "I did feel like I was forgetting something." Uh... drug store.... drugs. Drug store..... drugs. Hmmm... But, like a good mom, I sent him back to the store... offering to make a list this time so he didn't forget. And he willingly went... so it's not like I am ordering him around and being mean... it just takes a couple nudges to get him going in the right direction (love you, Mark!), whereas at work, he tends to get the task done the first time.

So, here's my conclusion. If you want your man to step up and be a little more independent, you have to be a little more dependent. If you need him to be on the ball, you have to get off of it. So, the choice is up to you. Either deal with the fact that you play the role of wife and mother (to your children and him sometimes, too) or step down, loosen the reigns and watch him thrive under the responsibility. I know which one my control freak side chooses, but that might not be the answer for you. All I know is that I know now where this comes from.... and in the immortal words of G.I. Joe (who would have this same problem if he married uber-independent She-Ra) "knowing is half the battle."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I'm Sorry, Mrs. A

I was just at my son's elementary school this morning, volunteering in his Kindergarten class. I got to cut and tape and wrap string around cardboard squares, and it could have been the most peaceful hour of my life... except for all those pesky kindergartners running around.

I was struck by the magnitude of what Will's teacher does every day. The number of kids and the size of their personalities.... I truly walked up to her and said, "I don't know how you do it!" She shrugged and smiled humbly, but did share that it is a bit harder this year because she has 11 more kids than she had last year, and last year she had an assistant. It took me a minute to process the mathematical logic where the district would add kids and then subtract an aide... and it hit me. "Vote no." Last spring there was a referendum to raise our property taxes a meager amount in order to maintain the school's budget. But, the public spoke... and what's worse, they voted... and the referendum failed.

After sitting in that room today, with a fantastic teacher in a 4 star school, all I could think is that all of those vote no-ers owe that teacher an apology. I hope that some day those people that couldn't spare $25 a year (I am sure you can find them eating McDonalds or spending money at the movies, but couldn't spare even that small amount for the school district) can see what their lack of generosity has caused. They sit back and say "down with taxation" and criticize the school district's money management, and I get it. The superintendent has some fat he could trim, but when the federal and state government slashes education budgets, there ain't enough fat to be trimmed to earn all that funding back. And interestingly, I wonder how these people will feel if the schools stop being 4 star award winners. What happens when my generation decides to flock elsewhere because we want our kids in the best school district, but this one can't even pay the phenomenal teachers and aides that it takes to be the best. What happens to your home values when the buyers look away and the market drops? Is it worth your $25 a year then?

I want to apologize to my son's teacher today, and to all the other teachers who heard "we don't care about you" when they heard the result of that vote in the spring. I want to say that I am sorry that their jobs are the harder for it, and our extremely high expectations haven't changed. I am sorry that they got the message loud and clear, that we expect them to do more, earn less, work harder and put in more time... and we will sit back, drink our Starbucks $8 lattes and bitch about the state of the economy and education in this country. I am sorry that for some reason people don't realize that the building blocks of education should be more important than, well, anything else. I am sorry.... not because I voted no... but because I didn't work harder to make everyone else vote yes. I am sorry... and I hope that my volunteering, and that of the other parents who actually support our schools can be a little help in what must be a very uphill battle. I'm just really sorry.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Jack's Credit Rating

So, I have recently come to the realization that I do not give jack enough credit. Somewhere between an infant seizure, helmets and speech delays, I concluded that Jack was special. Not the "all parents think their children are special" special, but a "protect him from everything and keep him close to (if not fully inside) the nest" special. But, in recent days both Jack and I have been forced out of our comfort zone, and while I think I am still a little shaky, he is passing the tests with flying colors!

First, Jack has had to embark on the wonderful world of speech therapy in a school. He has aged out of the miraculous program that brings the therapist to your home once a week for a free play date, and now goes to one of the local elementary schools once a week to meet with that speech teacher. So, we've left the house AND he leaves me behind. Even with his beloved Anna, I was always right near by on the couch. Now, he walks down a long hallway into a foreign room in a foreign school with a foreign person. (Actually, probably a domestic person, but you know what I mean). And, he isn't 100% yet. I walk him down the long hallway (at his request), but he just pushes right through the door and goes on in. HE GOES IN!!!

His other test is preschool. My Jack started preschool last week, and while there were tears on day one... it was not nearly as bad as I thought they would be. I expected clinging and screaming and having to dig his face out of my butt (where it was planted during the entire "Meet the Teacher" night). But, no. He cried in the car, walked to his seat in the class and sat stoic as I walked out. Day two... just a bottom lip, single tear. Day three... minor frown. Day four... NOTHING. He pleasantly walked in and said goodbye to me. I fully expected to be pulling him out of preschool to spend another year at home with me, praying that it would work when he turned 4. And, it works. Now.

These milestones, while major in every child's life, are epic for Jack (or at least for my version of Jack). He even played at neighbors' houses twice this week, with other kids... something he has never done before. My amazing boy who has been called "scary smart" by two separate speech therapists is finally coming out of his shell. He's no longer just sitting silently, he is joining the world and he is doing so with relative ease. All my fears, all my hesitations and stress.... He has shown me that (like the relationship between Visa and me), I am not giving him enough credit. Like my bills if my credit limit were higher, Jack is being given opportunities now, and he is choosing to soar.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

We All Know

Dear Bullies,

I had a lot on my to do list today, all of which I was hoping to get done while Jack was at school. But, first was "have some breakfast" and I turned on the ABC Family movie "Cyberbully" when I sat down to eat, and before I knew it, two hours had passed. The credits were rolling and my anger was boiling over.

While I know bullying existed when I was a kid, I was never really a target. Aside from the "new kid" jokes when I moved in 8th grade, I was pretty much left alone. Not the homecoming queen or the victim, but a member of the nameless blob in between. But today, the bullying is even worse, because as the movie put it... you don't get to go home to safety anymore. Thanks to the Internet and social sites, the bullying is everywhere, a beast you can never outrun. It follows you, finding your every hiding spot. Infiltrating... attacking.... violating.... hurting... And, it never stops.

So, here's the thing I think the bullies of the world don't know... While you may be successful in ruining your target's life, the rest of us are on to you. We know why you are doing it, and we are not under the misconception that it is because your victim is a loser. It's because you are less. And we know. You don't strike out at person unless you need it to feel like you are more. And if you can't be enough without hurting someone, then you certainly aren't more.... you aren't even enough. You are less. And we know all it.

The things is, if you are really strong, you don't have to tell someone else that they are weak. Smart people don't prove it by making someone else feel dumb, and if you are beautiful, you don't show it by calling someone else ugly. Strength is measured not by picking on the weak, but by going toe to toe against equal strength and coming out victorious. Heavyweights don't take on a featherweight, do they? The smartest people solve problems, they don't create them. The beautiful people are the ones that shine from the inside, as well as the outside. You make yourself ugly when you use those terms. And while you may get a boost from showing that you have something someone else doesn't, the reality is that another person is stronger, smarter and prettier than you. And, the rest of us know it.

So rather than try to put someone else down, just to make yourself feel good... try another tactic. If you are strong, stand up for the weak. If you are smart, use that to defend someone else, and if you are beautiful, realize that through kindness you can be that much prettier. Because until then, the more you try to hurt people to show how good you are.... you'll really just end up being less. And everyone will know it.

Note: If you have tween or teens, watch this movie. It gives a realistic and terrifying portrayal of what our children are facing today, and the extent to which the bullying can push the victim over the edge. Watch it, and know that because this was a movie and not real life... it has positive resolution. But in the real world, the fade to black doesn't always come after a happy ending. Go to to learn more, and do it before it hits home.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Momunists

There are days, like today, where I feel like no matter how old I get or what I do with my life, I am stuck permanently back in middle school. No, it is not because Tabbi's 7th grade experiences are bringing back vivid memories, but because no matter where I go and what I do... I cannot escape "those girls." But today, instead of mean girls, pop tarts, or whatever we dubbed them at Bett Middle, they are what I call "The Momunists."

I blogged about them a long time ago here, but I have found that now that I have a kid in 7th, a kid in Kindergarten and a kid in preschool... they are everywhere! I am sure you know them, too, but just in case.... here's how you spot them. At the bus stop, they will be the ones in the yoga pants and sports bras or Under Armour shirts, just waiting for little Kiki or Maxwell the 3rd to climb onto the bus so they may plug in their iPods and jog the day away. At the school, they are the ones hugging the principal and calling her by her first name, and then greeting each lunch lady and janitor with a polite "you are less than me, but I will appear to be benevolent" nod. At sporting events, they are the ones with their daughter's name on their sport specific t-shirts, and at all outside of school events like PTO, they are the ones running the show.

Here's how they can tell you are not one of them. 1. You are always either under or over dressed. At the bus stop you are wearing capris and a t shirt, and let's get serious... the only place you are jogging is to the bathroom during The View's commercial breaks. During outside of school events, you wear your normal style, whereas they don Land's End polos and matching khaki shorts and look at your sequined "I wish I was from Jersey" sweater with disdain and whisper "I bet that's not even Eddie Bauer." 2. Your son's name is written on his backpack with Sharpie, not embroidered and express shipped from L.L.Bean. 3. Your son has a temporary tattoo of some sort of dinocrocmonsterturtle on his forearm, and has for the past 4 weeks. 4. At sporting events, you are the one wearing whatever you had been wearing all day, and sweating like a pig trying to keep Jack from tumbling down the bleachers and Will from yelling "TABBI RULES" right as the other team serves. 5. At PTO, you are the one again wearing something either too casual or too formal, and trying to get involved, but your ideas are shot down in order to have a "sock hop" which both you and the kids attending are too young to appreciate for the nostaglia and retro factor, plus you are the mother of a robust little boy who isn't interested in dancing the jitter bug or whatever they did in bobby socks days.

These creatures kept me out of PTO when Tabbi was in elementary school, and I find myself shrinking into the background again. Rarely do I walk into a world where I feel "less than" others, but there is something about these Stepford moms. While I strive to be involved in the kids' schools, I don't want to be a part of their regime. But I kind of wish that my exclusion was on my terms and not theirs. Then again, there is one benefit to being on the outside looking in. I am not being forced to wear a poodle skirt any time soon.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Love Thy Neighbor

I've been toying with this post for awhile now, fearing that I will insult a large majority of my friends... but I tend to be insulting anyway, so I just decided to embrace it. But, before you read, know that I am not criticizing a religion or any of my friends who practice it... and in fact, am only targeting a small group of that population who seem to extol its virtues a lot more than they actually live them. Thus endeth my disclaimer (and possibly some friendships).

There is a family that I know that is Christian. You can tell that they are Christians because they manage to include it in virtually every conversation you ever have. If you mention what a nice day it is, it is nice because God made it so. If you mention that you like their new patio set, it is because they prayed on which set to buy. If you mention that it's 2:00pm, then it is 2:00pm on the Lord's day. And that's fine. I respect their devotion and their general attitude of gratitude and happiness. Then, their little boy (who attends a private Christian school, which they also work into every conversation), will basically take a dump on mine, all while they smile and explain how very Christian they are. And that, my friends, is what I don't get.

I don't attend a church right now, and I am not a theologian (I leave that area of expertise to my brother). I am not an expert on God or religion, but I have always believed that at the heart of every religion, is to be a good person. Maybe I am naive, but I have always thought that was the goal. So, when I see these people with "SUPER CHRISTIAN" tattooed on their foreheads, I often wonder why they have to say it so often, rather than show it. I understand that these are children, and that kids will be kids, and am in no way implying that private Christian schools created this monster, but I am surprised that parents will stand there and profess to be so good, and let their child behave so bad. Aren't there key quotes like "Thou shalt love thy neighbor" and "Anyone who says he is walking in the light of Christ but dislikes his fellow man is still in darkness" that should indicate that at the end of the day (and in the beginning and middle), we should all just strive to be good people, and be gooder to the people around us?

I like to live by the mantra "I don't know nuthin' about nuthin'," and that is probably the most true when speaking about religious topics (and parenting). But, I do know that I have always made my kids live by the rule that they will be good to others. At times, that means forcing Tabbi to play with or talk to younger kids, but too bad. Including them when they are around is a must. Period. I think that is because way down deep, under all of my meanness and cynicism, I am really trying to just be a good person and raise my kids to be good, too. I am not professing to be a better Christian than anyone else, but at least I know I have that one criterion down. I may not include it in every conversation, but I will live that part every day. And, whether it be Biblical teachings or that of Bill and Ted... I wish we all could just live by this theory and "be excellent to each other."