Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Sharpie is a terrible thing to waste

The boy returned from band camp Friday just fine.  It was a little shaky there, for a day or two...where his phone calls were enough to make me want to zip right up there and bring him home.  

By Wednesday, he sounded more like himself, just tired, and I was able to put my car keys back down.

The imprint of where they were gripped in my hand just wore off yesterday.

Now, it's on to bigger and better things.

We start school Monday.

I vowed this year to wait until school starts to by school supplies.  This is a novel concept for me, as those who know me well can attest.  The prospect of reams of pristine paper, new pens, and the smell of a new box of crayons is usually enough to make me veer into the nearest Target and load up like I have to supply the entire neighborhood.

I was doing quite well until a friend of mine told me that spiral notebooks were 5 cents at Walmart.  5 cents!  And so the ball started rolling in my mind, the wheels turning...I mean, having gone through this so many times before, I kinda know what they're going to need anyway...and I can get those things first, the stuff the teachers want later....and I won't go crazy.

As I stood in the checkout at Walmart yesterday with Nolan beside me,  stacks of 5 cent notebooks in front of my, I felt that pang, that good pang of "this is a great deal!"  

There was also that control-freak pang of "I'm on top of things."

It was enough to carry me through the day, even though I resisted the siren call of "special edition" Sharpies in colors I'd not seen before but love.  Later, I whispered to them, as I placed them back on the shelf gently, with the care of a lover.

I saw my friend last night, and I told her I'd checked out Walmart.  "Did you see the Walgreens ad?"  "No."  "Five pack of Bic mechanical pencils, 5 cents each, you can buy 3 packs at a time.  We bought like 30 packs, I cleaned out the one I went to, I'm hitting two more tonight."

I felt feverish. 

So I went to Walgreens as soon as I got everyone home.

I am certain that by the time school starts, my friend's picture will be posted by mine---right next to cash registers all over town.

Monday, July 14, 2008

...."and one time...."

"...at band camp..."

I just thought I'd get that out of the way.  You'll see why in a minute.

I dropped off Nolan today at the school.  He is going up north, a few hours away, to band camp.  He'll be back on Friday. 

All last week he would alternately sulk or make a face every time I reminded him of it or asked him about it.  I was getting pretty irritated with him over his attitude until I decided to make a stab at why he was being such a pill.

"Is it because you know this means school will start soon?"

I opened the flood gates.

"Yeah.  I'll only have ONE WEEK after I get back off, and then school starts again.   That sucks."

Are you kidding me? I thought.  A week up in the cooler climes, doing something you enjoy, away from us.  No parents.  No siblings.  It's interrupting his busy schedule of sleeping in, playing Halo, and complaining about Ben; what was I thinking?  Of course he's upset.

Suck it up, buddy.

Anyway, as with most camps, there was a list of items to take along.  I've been collecting what he needed to take over the summer, and I was fairly comfortable (okay, and maybe, a little smug) that I had it under control.   Missing him aside, this should be a piece of cake, I thought, as I drifted off to sleep last night.  I went through the list in my head again.  Check, check, check...I mentally ticked. Forms.  Don't forget to fill out those extra forms, was the last thought I had before I nodded off. 

This morning, I had him in the shower, all his stuff laid out to be put in his bag.  I was filling out the forms, and I was copying the list of "field trips" aka 'away games and festivals' for myself when I got to "ASU Band Day."

This, for some reason, conjured up an image of...marching bands.  (duh) More importantly, it conjured up an image of the thing that holds the music onto your instrument...because playing with two hands and holding your music, for someone who plays with two hands, like a clarinet, is probably important.  (Although, I have seen music held in one hand, while the player wobbily held it and played his trumpet, while swaying, thanks to pregame libating...I won't name names; suffice to say, I know it can be done, just not in my son's case.)

I didn't even know what the thing is called, but was set straight soon enough after consulting the expert swayer, and as soon as Nolan was packed, we set off for the music store.

I managed to mangle the pronunciation of "lyre" but the guy understood what we needed, and I also picked up the flip-chart music holder that attaches to it.  (I may be slow on the uptake, but I am thorough.)   We brought the lyre home only to discover it didn't fit right. 

Back to the music store, this time with all his gear as time was getting short.  He went into the store, receipt in hand, as well as the part of the barrel he thought he needed to fit it on.   A few minutes later, he emerged emptyhanded.  I assumed he needed more money, but no, he needed the entire clarinet.  My eye started twitching as I bit my tongue--I'd suggested that to begin with--and I waited long enough to wonder what was up, when suddenly, he reappeared.  I couldn't resist asking, "What happened?" "He was putting it on the wrong part."  "He was?"  "He was.  I was.  We both were."

I kept my laughter and further comment to myself.

I got him a bite to eat, and dropped him off at the school.  He probably would have bid me adieu in the parking lot, but there was a sign that said "Parents must check in". 

To think, I shaved the "annoying overbearing mother" mole off my forehead, this would have been a fabulous opportunity.....

Once inside, we were directed on where to place his luggage and such, and I tried not to wince at the gross state of his pillowcase ("at least I'll know it's mine") and we got his nametag (haha!) and I handed over the forms.  I looked around the room at these kids, none of whom I knew, and I spotted a neighbor of ours.  I don't really know her either, just in passing, but when you are sending your child away, it's nice to see a familiar parental face.  I said hi, introduced her to Nolan, and could almost hear him groan inwardly. 

"Are you coming?"  she asked.  I knew already, from her past record, she was more than likely going along.  "No.  I was going to, but by the time I put my name in the hat, there were enough parents along."  "Is this his first time?"  "Yes."  "I'll keep an eye on him."  This time, I know I heard Nolan groan inwardly.

We stepped aside together, and I asked him if he was okay.  "Yes."  He paused.  "I'll be fine."  "You want me to leave, don't you?"  "Yup."  I stood there, not wanting to leave, knowing I had to...stalling, I asked, "Do you see anyone here you know?"  "Yes."  I thought, foolishly, he'd take me over to them, but he stood there, 'mom-go-already' all over his face.  I told him to call us later tonight, and I left.  Before I went out the door, I looked over my shoulder at him.  He was already with the kids he knew.

When I was driving away, and I felt the pang I knew I would, but I swallowed it.  I wouldn't want any of the people driving up to see me wiping away a tear or two in the car, lest I embarrass the boy.  (As if anyone would recognize me.)

I hold my children close (sometimes too close to those on the outside) and that always makes separations like these difficult.  The truth is, I wanted to go along, I did want to chaperone.  But I know that the child needs his space, he needs to have these experiences away from me in order to grow.  And so do I.

I know he will be okay and I hope he has a good time.

Hopefully, on his return, he's not going to begin any of his stories...the way I started this one.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

I've never heard it called that before

Audrey has been taking swimming lessons since we got out of school.  She's as brown as a bean, truly a Coppertone baby, and I point at her as she prances around, lifting an eyebrow at Mr W: "Do you see my good work?  That tan, that's all me,"  I giggle.  Of course I can giggle now, after class--it wasn't so funny earlier, in the locker room, when I accidentally shot sunscreen right into her eye.  Ooops.

Speaking of locker rooms, on our way out of the pool today, she was on her third "Mommy?  I was wondering..."  (it's her current way of phrasing a question, and I hear it a million times a day); I was on autonod, automm-hhm when I realized she was walking into the boys' locker room.  "Let's go in here," she said, mischievous glint in her eye.  "What?  No,"  I said, as I put a hand on her shoulder to guide her back out.  She giggled, then said, "I want to see the boys.  I want to see...their...noodles."  There's an interesting turn of events, I thought to myself, suddenly sensitive to the swirl of Moms and kids around us.

"Noodles?"  I asked her, cocking my head to the side, moving her along ahead of the pack.  "Yeah.  You know, their wieners."

This is going from bad to worse, I thought.  Aw, honey. If it's a noodle, you don't really want to see it.  Whoa, girl, filter ON, snap out of it.  

As we turn the corner, continuing our way out of the locker room, I ask her, "Where'd you hear that?"  "Ryan.  He told me not to hit Ben in his private place because I'd hit his wiener and that hurts."  Ah, anatomical wisdom from a sage 9 year old.  Fabulous.

Why am I squeamish? I wonder.  Has it been that long since I had this discussion with her brothers?  All that "use the right term" blather with all the adults who might be asked this question, and here I am, blanching at 'wiener'?  Be the grown up, I scold myself.

I take a deep breath.  "Well, honey, he's right.  It would hurt if you hit Ben in his private place.  That's because boys have their private parts on the outside.  It's called a penis,"  I said, looking over my shoulder for eavesdroppers as we enter the parking lot, playing my sudden film of sweat off to the heat, as I walked her faster, faster, to the van. "A penis,"  she repeated, trying the word out herself.  "Boy private parts are on the outside?" she repeats, as I see she has a spark of understanding, and moves on to the next question: "So what are our (girl) private parts called?"

Of course.  Of course that was next, what did I expect? She's a bright girl. Too late to turn back now.  I can do this, I reassure myself.  I'm ready!  I'm enlightened!

Still, I stumble on it. "Um, ah.."  Do I give her the whole deal?  Good lord.  Keep it simple. "um...It's called a vagina,"  I replied, saying it out the side of my mouth, over my shoulder down at her, like I was asking for something illegal.  "Ah-G-INA?"  she parrots.  I whirl my head, surveying the parking lot, estimating how many feet to the van, "No, sweetie, vagina," I say again.  "An-gina?"  I wish.  "Vuh. VUH-JA-INA."  Oh, the hell with it.  I say it, intoning the syllables, restraining myself from the cutesy "va-jay-jay" (thank you, Gray's Anatomy), from "hootchiekoo", from every other thing that would make us giggle and probably entice her to repeat it wherever we go at random and at probably the worst time.

"And girl parts?...."  "...are on the inside,"  I say, finishing her thought.  Holding back: And neater.  And prettier.  Please.  I'm a fan of the boy parts, but we all know that's true.

We are steps away from the van.  "Because the boy private parts are on the outside, it's very important to not kick or hit your brothers there, it is very painful," I remind her.  Besides, I think I might like grandchildren some day, don't knock your poor brothers' goods.

I realize I left out "scrotum" and "testicles".  At this point, however, we were in the van, and she was more concerned with what we might havefor lunch.  Parts were forgotten in lieu of:

"Can I have McDonalds?" 

Honey, you can have Peking duck, I'm so glad you didn't say "noodles."

Top Ramen will never be the same.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Red is my color

My forearm is riddled with little red slashes.

A sign that I should be under surveillance in the padded room of my choice?


(Although, if the padded room was equipped with air conditioning set to "artic", I might consider it.)

No, these marks I bear are from my seatbelt.  I miss the hole every time and when hot metal bumps up against your skin, and you hear a sizzle...well, it's bound to leave a mark.  Who knew that taking Audrey to her swimming lesson would be such a challenge? 

As I breathed in the superheated air of my van, I could feel my lungs crinkle in protest.  So I felt kind of bad urging Audrey into her seat while at the same time, I have to chuckle at her ingenious way of buckling her seatbelt.  She has taken an old knit hat, part of her winter hat-and-mittens set, and uses it to hold her seatbelt as she guides it in.

It's a sad day when your six-year-old outsmarts you.

Unfortunately, this happens a lot.

The boys are visiting with their uncle, three hours away, and it's down to me, the princess, and Mr W.  I'm trying to focus on the boys having a good time, making memories with their cousins and family; and not that they are taking classes instructed by Professor Tio E, in "Porn 101:  How the Internet and Cable TV Are Your Friends"; "When to Tip a Stripper";  and "The Physics of Quarters", accompanied by the seminar "Alcohol:  Lowering Inhibitions or Broadening Horizons?"

I exaggerate, of course.  My brother is a good guy and he enjoys my childrens' company. Besides, as he put it--"I'm not going to corrupt your kids."  It's just that he is way more fun than I am, I know it.  Less filter.  Less "no, that's inappropriate."  They will have enjoy their time there, no doubt. 

I am, admittedly, a little overcome by the emptiness of the house.  Not the quiet.  Audrey takes care of that, no problem.  And it is nice to not have to be feeding people all daylong.

However, even though I assured them that I rented their rooms out while they are gone, I miss them.

Maybe I need my own seminar.

"Yes, I'll Have a Margarita."