Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sometimes You Just Know

Spouse:  Should we be insulted that Big Kid doesn't want us to attend the academic banquet?

Me:  No, it's fine.  It's not because he's ashamed of us.  In fact, he's not ashamed of us, which is pretty amazing.  I actually think he thinks we're pretty okay, all things considered.

Spouse:  So?

Me:  I'm 99% sure that he asked us to stay home because a friend's parents couldn't attend, and to encourage his friend to participate, he told the friend that we wouldn't be there, either. 

Spouse:  Yeah?

Me:  No.  I mean, yes, but no, I'm not 99% sure - I'm 100% sure.  He didn't say anything to me, and I didn't ask, but I - I kind of just know.

Spouse:  It is the sort of thing he is likely to do.

Me:  Yes.

Spouse:  He's a really, REALLY good kid.

Me:  Yes.

So Big Kid attended his banquet on his own.  I went to a work thing, and Spouse went to Little Kid's choir performance (which Spouse described as "awesomely awful," which made me really sad that I missed it).  And, after my work thing, I headed Big Kid's way, and en route he called:

Big Kid:  Yo, Mom. 

Me:  I'm on my way.  It's 7:55 in my car, which means it is 7:50 in the real world [the clock in my car is five minutes fast, and we refuse to change it, because where's the fun in having the time of day inside the car match up to the time outside of it?], which means that I will get to you exactly at 8 pm, as per agreement.

Big Kid:  Go, you!

Me:  I know, right?  They aren't trying to kick you out of the building, are they?

Big Kid:  No, it's cool.  The banquet just ended, and lots of people are still here.  [Shouts out to a passing friend and laughs.]

Me:  You're very chipper.

Big Kid:  There was cake.  And Ms. Skelton presented the Whiz Quiz team with a piƱata, just because, and I partook in quite a bit of the candy that came out of it, so I'm on a major sugar high at the moment.

Me:  Lucky me.

Big Kid:  I know, right?

As I pulled into the parking lot, my phone rang again:

Me:  I'm here.  Where are you?

Big Kid:  Still in the gym.   I volunteered to help with tear-down.

Me:  Okay, I'm turning around by the basketball courts.

Big Kid:  I see you now.  I wanted to let you know that I propped the door open for you, so you can just come inside once you have parked.

I looked up.  Saw my child - smiling and waving at me from the doorway.

I walked across the parking lot.  A female friend of Big Kid's called out, in that way that teenage girls are wont to do:  "IS THAT YOUR MOM?"

Big Kid nodded.

I waited for the inevitable, "OMG, YOU LOOK JUST LIKE HER!"  Instead:  "Your son is going to be my wedding coordinator."

Me:  Are you getting married imminently?

Big Kid:  No.  It's an inside joke. 

Me:  Ah.  Well, good call.  He would make a great wedding coordinator.  Tremendous attention to detail, doesn't take no for an answer.

Both kids smiled.

I passed the remains of the cake - which I knew, without even having to look, must be white with white icing, because otherwise Big Kid wouldn't have accepted a slice.  Big Kid only approves of vanilla-flavored things, with extra points awarded for the addition of a good buttercream.

Just like his mom.

I exchanged pleasantries with teachers and parents.  Several said that they were sorry that neither Spouse nor I was able to attend, and one teacher who knew of Big Kid's frequent visits to Forgetful Town expressed concern that, perhaps, he had failed to give us the invitation.  I blurted out, rather defensively, "Oh, he gave us the invitation, and we would have been happy to attend, but he asked us not to."

Big Kid's head snapped up.  Teacher started to open her mouth to take Big Kid to task.

"No, no, it's totally okay.  I'm pretty sure that he asked us to stay away because one of his friends was going to be parent-less for the evening, and he didn't want the friend to feel left out."

Big Kid's face split into a grin.

"Two friends, actually."

And then, the grin got, impossibly, wider.

"How did you know?"

He repeated the question when we got into the car.  And I answered him.

"Because I made you.  So I just do."

"Yeah, that makes sense."

On the ride home, Big Kid did an excellent job of safeguarding the slice of cake that he fetched for my future consumption. 

"I knew you would want a piece."

"Vanilla, with buttercream."


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Back In the Day

Occasionally, I am reminded that I have been around for a (relatively) long time.

Like, when I look at the ring finger on my left hand, it occasionally registers in my brain that my wedding rings are set in yellow gold - not white gold or platinum.  Spouse has asked multiple times if I would like an "upgrade," and each time I tell him no - he designed my rings himself, from scratch, so I am rather partial to the settings, and I am oddly partial to the yellow gold, because it pretty much screams, "I got engaged in 1995, when wedding rings typically were yellow." 

In 1995, you didn't announce your engagement on Facebook or Instagram, because those things did not exist.  Cell phones weren't a common thing, either, so when Not-Yet-Spouse made the rookie mistake of attempting to rendezvous with my best friend "under Big Tex" just prior to the proposal (we got engaged at the Texas State Fair on Texas/OU Weekend), and when we were unable to locate her in the ginormous crowd of people who also were attempting to connect with other people "under Big Tex" (surprise!), there was no calling her and triangulating to her location.  Spouse just had to go forward without her, and she got the details of the proposal afterwards - when we both could get to a land line.

There weren't save-the-date cards, either, and engagement photos were optional.  If you took them, they certainly didn't involve multiple changes of clothing, or chalkboards with cute sayings written on them.  The late 1990's were remarkably chalkboard-free.  No chalkboards at the reception, or mason jars, or tissue poms.  Back then, you said it with flowers - lots of them.  No photo booths or props, either:  we were considered high-tech for putting disposable cameras on the tables.  (Some of the house party and other law school friends did take it upon themselves to snap photos in the bathroom through the mirror - the first-ever experiment with mirror selfies, maybe?  They also took close-up shots of the food - a precursor to the food porn shots that are now a dime a dozen on social media.)

Also, in 1996, cakes were CAKES - they weren't cake-shaped objects formed out of other baked goods, like cupcakes or macarons.  Our first cupcake cake sighting was in 1999, and I remember saying to Spouse, "Wow, why didn't we think of that?"  (Answer:  Pinterest didn't exist back then.)  My wedding cake was considered cutting-edge because it was asymmetrical and did not feature sugar roses.  Spouse's groom's cake was considered cutting-edge because HE ACTUALLY HAD A GROOM'S CAKE.  Believe it or not, groom's cakes were optional back then - and if you had one, it was chocolate, and it had strawberries on it.  (Fortunately, Spouse really likes chocolate-covered strawberries.)

Then I got pregnant with our first, and the only options that I had for maternity wear were Motherhood Maternity or JC Penney's.  (It was a BIG DEAL when Old Navy came out with maternity clothes shortly before we had the Little Kid - boy, did I go buck-wild on the ON Web site.)   We opted not to learn Big Kid's gender prior to his birth, which meant our choices of layette items were "teddy bear" or "duck," in a palette of either pale yellow or mint green.  (Had we known that he was a boy, our theme options would have expanded to include "truck," and pale blue would have been a third color option.)  There was really only one place to buy baby stuff, and that was Babies R Us.  I felt very avant garde for having ordered his bed linens (pale yellow, with some brights mixed in) online - how very forward-thinking of me.

Chevron hadn't been invented yet.  Well, actually it had been invented, but we called it flamestitch, and it never occurred to us to use it in a kid's room.  And it certainly never occurred to us to paint a kid's room gray, or stencil a monogram on the wall.

Photographers did not travel to your home with a shabby chic armchair, crocheted cocoon and knit stocking cap in tow, to capture images of your precious three day-old infant in his/her natural environment.  There was one - ONE! - photographer who had figured out that parents might like to have their babies photographed at home, and he had also figured out how to position a small baby to look like the baby could hold up his or her own head.  Unlike today's photogs, though, he insisted on photographing Propped Baby WHEN PROPPED BABY WAS ACTUALLY AWAKE.  No sweet photos of a baby in a six foot-long stocking cap with hands squished under the face and eyes squeezed shut.  Nope, had Propped Baby drifted off, Photog would have tickled Propped Baby's foot.  Because, back then, we were kind of obsessed with capturing images of our children with their eyes open. 

Cutting-Edge Baby Photog had two props - a blue blanket and a pink blanket - and zero lighting equipment.  He used the natural lighting in your home, which means that all of the photos from our session were ridiculously dark - but, still, we thought that they were the coolest thing ever.  And, as I am typing this, I am wondering if Friend Leslie and Friend Laura still display their photos taken at around the same time by the same guy.  If they do have them out, I could immediately point them out to you based on (1) the blanket and (2) the awful lighting.

Big Kid did not have a smash cake on his first birthday.  He had a smash slice.  (Little Kid did have a smash cake, but it was an afterthought - I picked up a petit four while I was fetching the main cake, meaning THE TWO CAKES DIDN'T EVEN MATCH.  Yes, Little Kid survived.)  We did not recreate the cake-smash in a photographer's studio, and the only wardrobe change on either kid's birthday was impromptu (post-cake).  When Big Kid turned one, your only "official first birthday photo" options were to have your child pose in a giant gift box, next to a giant number one, at Picture People . . . or pose in a giant gift box, next to a giant number one, at Sears Portrait Studio . . . or pose in a giant gift box, next to a giant number one, at Penney's.

Today, when I look at photos of artfully arranged artisanal cheese buffets at wedding receptions, or professional pictures of infants and their older siblings cuddling in monogrammed-out-the-wazoo nurseries, I find myself initially wishing that those concepts existed back in the day.  But then I run across a photo of me in my meringue-esque wedding dress (I only had one dress, by the way - no separate reception dress for dancing, just a hook on the back to bustle the train), or in a really unflattering navy pinstriped maternity pantsuit, and I think, "Wow, Spouse and I predate - well, basically everything trendy," and that makes me happy.  And then I run across a photo of the boys in yawningly boring baby clothes, photographed in front of dated studio backgrounds (or, WORSE, PHOTOGRAPHED BY MOM OR DAD WITH A FILM CAMERA!), and I think, "I have a fourteen year-old and a nine year-old," and as scary as that thought is, it's also, really, amazingly cool.

And so I choose to wear my uncoolness like a badge of honor.  A yellow gold one, festooned with mint green duckies.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sample Conversation Between Spouse and Me

[Note:  When I was president of Junior Woman's Club, "starburst" was our exec committee's safe word.  When people started to go off on tangents, one could simply say, "starburst," or "we're starbursting," and it was a signal to get back on-message.

Another note:  Spouse frequently accuses me of starbursting when I am (allegedly) cleaning the house.  Basically, if I'm doing a task that he doesn't deem mission-critical, I'm either "fiddling while Rome burns" or "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic," depending on what metaphor is his favorite that week.]

So I've been thinking about your disdain for starbursting, and I think that it's partially misguided.

Do tell.

I submit that there are three types of starbursting.  The first type of starbursting I shall categorize as "mission-critical starbursting."  Example:  my goal is to eradicate the pile of clothing on the blanket chest on my side of the bed.  So I ask myself:  why is the pile there?  Partly because I have a mental block about hanging up clothes when I get home from work, and partly because my closet is currently disorganized, and every time I think about sorting through the pile I think, "I need to organize the closet before I hang up those things."  Ergo, organizing the closet is an appropriate precursor to eradicating the clothes pile, and in fact really ought to be considered a necessary part of the clothes pile eradication process.  Because, in the absence of an organized closet, the clothes pile is likely to return.

I concede this point.

A second and distinct type of starbursting I shall refer to as "opportunistic starbursting."  Example:  last night I went in search of that tablecloth that I was thinking of using for Keno.

I remember. 

And then I decided that I would look for paper plates and napkins for the Woman's Club notebook exchange while I was at it, and in the process of looking for all of the above I realized that the sideboard was in a state of disarray, and it really needed to be organized, and, on the theory that to keep a house within certain organizational tolerances you need to take on several "done in a day" projects per month, I decided that I needed to reorganize the sideboard, because like every other storage piece in the house it needs to be reorganized on an occasional basis, and there wouldn't be a better time than right then, while I was thinking about it.  So I cleaned out the sideboard and, not only did I find the tablecloth, paper plates and napkins, but I found a bunch of other paper goods that I can use over the summer, so taking the time to clean out the sideboard both facilitated the consumption of consumable goods that were already taking up space and eliminated the need to spend money on similar goods.  Thus, I submit that opportunistic starbursting can be socially useful.

I concede this point as well.

So that leaves "procrastination starbursting."  Like when I go to clean out a desk drawer, and find a picture of one of the kids from the spring of 2013, and remember that I haven't printed the Shutterfly album for the spring of 2013 because I need to upload those pictures from Memorial Day, so I decide to upload the pictures while I am thinking about it, and when I do upload the pictures, there is a banner ad for 30% off of photo albums on the Shutterfly site, so I decide to go ahead and complete and order the book, but then I remember that I should always link to Shutterfly through Upromise because the kids earn money for college that way, and when I go to Upromise I see that Lands' End is offering extra savings this week, so I buy the kids swimsuits for summer vacation. 


And then I spend two hours on Travelocity looking at hotel options for summer vacation.


When it's only February.


And I never get around to finishing the drawer.

Yup, again.

And then you come in and see the big pile of stuff that I have taken out of the drawer, spread out on the bed and only semi-sorted, and you're really tired, so while I'm in the bathroom you just shove everything on the floor.


And then I yell at you for not giving me adequate time to complete tasks.


Okay, I agree that it totally sucks when I do that, and I should stop.

Monday, May 19, 2014

#nohelicopterneeded, Monday Edition

Sometimes I think I want to be a helicopter parent.  Scratch that:  I don't want the actual job of a helicopter parent, but it might be nice to be nominated.

This is as close as I get:

Big Kid:  Mom, I need you to help me remember what I did in sixth and seventh grade.

Me:  Huh?  [It was really early in the morning.]

Big Kid:  Academically.  At the academic banquet, when they announce the eighth graders, they summarize all of our achievements over the last three years.

Me:  Well, you won some UIL awards.  I don't remember what they were, because you didn't actually let us attend.  We just picked you up at the end of the day.

Big Kid:  Got those.

Me:  And Whiz Quiz.  You actually let me go to those - for the first two years.

Big Kid:  Already on my list.

Me:  You were on the Cardboard Boat Regatta team in sixth grade.  I recall making plans to take your brother to the park to watch your team compete, and you told me under no uncertain terms that we were not welcome as spectators.

Big Kid [ignoring my editorial comment]:  Ooh, good - I had forgotten about that one.

Me:  And I have anecdotal evidence that you placed third in the Spelling Bee, but that was -

Big Kid:  - this year, right.  I have that down for eighth grade, and, of course, vice-president of National Junior Honor Society.

Me:  Wait, what?

Big Kid:  I'm vice-president of National Junior Honor Society.

Me:  Did I know about this?

Big Kid:  Probably not.  I don't recall discussing it.  But you know about it now.

Me:  And this banquet, why didn't I know about that?

Big Kid:  Oh, it's at 6 pm on the 28th.

Me:  Of course.  Figures, because I just made plans at 6 pm on the 28th, but I am happy to change -

Big Kid:  No worries.  I only RSVP'd for one.  It's $30 a head for adult guests, which is kind of ridiculous, and it's fun to go without parents, and sit with the teachers when they're not actually on duty.  So if you can just arrange to get me there, we're good.

I should be happy, right?  Right?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Things That Made Me Feel Old This Week

[An occasional series inspired by my 44th birthday and my recent experience accompanying my college roommate while she put down a deposit on her son's dorm room.]

Caught the tail end of "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" and: 

Found myself empathizing with some of the aging characters' storylines.

Remembered reading that Pierce Brosnan will be one of the aging characters in the sequel.

Attempted to come to terms with the fact that Pierce Brosnan now plays elderly dudes.

Realized that it's Richard Gere, not Pierce Brosnan, who is appearing in the sequel.

Felt really old for confusing Richard Gere and Pierce Brosnan, which is something my mother might do.

Attempted to come to terms with the fact that Richard Gere now plays elderly dudes.

IMDB'd Richard Gere - yep, he turns 65 in August.

Acknowledged that I have a small crush on Dev Patel.

Realized that I am old enough to be Dev Patel's mother without said birth being scandalous.

Remembered that I first noticed that Dev Patel was oddly cute, not during "Slumdog Millionaire" or an episode of "Newsroom," BUT WHILE WATCHING "THE LAST AIRBENDER" MOVIE WITH MY CHILDREN.

(So that last one didn't make me feel old so much as it made me feel pervy.)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Kid Born in 2004 Reviews "Dumbo"

Spouse has this weird, nostalgic thing for Disney cartoons.  Like, he LOVES, loves, LURVES "The Jungle Book," which I only tolerate because of Louis Prima's King Louis orangutan character.  ("I'm the king of the swingers, the jungle VIP . . . .") 

Because I have this weird, nostalgic thing for Louis Prima.  But that's (maybe) the subject of a future post.

Spouse holds "Dumbo" in roughly the same esteem as "Jungle Book," so when the elephant movie came on the Disney Channel on Mother's Day, he insisted on making the Little Kid and me watch it.

Umm, yaaaaaaaaay.  Actually, it was awesome, because the Little Kid - not unlike the Big Kid before him - lives in my head, and shares my thoughts, but he can get away with voicing those thoughts in ways that I cannot.  (I mean, I DO voice them, and Spouse rolls his eyes - but then one of the kids says the EXACT SAME THING, COMPLETELY UNPROMPTED, and suddenly I'm on my feet, all triumphant-like, pointing at whichever kid it is and shouting, "BOOM!  TOLD YA!")

So the film begins, and I'm sort of paying attention, because I find the stork character's canned birth announcement speech semi-amusing.  The Little Kid is glued to whatever is on the screen of his tablet computer, and is therefore paying zero attention, until Dumbo's ears unfurl.  And then:

Ooooh, I get it.  The other female elephants are freaking out because they're Asian elephants, and Mrs. Jumbo is an Asian elephant, too, but her baby has HUGE EARS, so the baby's dad is probably an African elephant, and they think that's scandalous.

Spouse:  [Opens and closes mouth like a fish.  For what won't be the last time.]

Me [in my head]:  YES!  ELEPHANT JERRY SPRINGER!  This show just got marginally more interesting!

Spouse:  Ohhhhhhkay, I'll admit I never thought about it like THAT before, but, yes, you're right that African elephants do have larger ears . . . .

Significantly larger ears, Dad.

Me [out loud this time]:  Yes, and that would explain why the other female elephants are being so hateful to Mrs. Jumbo, because they are judgmental bigots who enjoy casting stones, which, BY THE WAY, IS THE MAIN REASON THAT I HAVE ALWAYS HATED THIS MOVIE.

Spouse:  Huh?


Spouse:  Yeah, okay, I think you're reading too much into it . . . .

Me:  Nope, it's "Mean Girls," but with elephants, and an unfunny script.

After I pin Spouse's ears back (small pun intended), minutes pass without anyone saying anything.  And then:

I'm sorry - are the elephant and the mouse DRUNK?

Spouse:  Umm, a little bit.

But Dumbo's a KID.  A baby, really.  AND BABIES SHOULDN'T DRINK.

Spouse:  They didn't mean to get drunk.

Alcohol shouldn't be where kids can drink it ACCIDENTALLY.  And they're making it out like it's funny that he's drunk, and a kid being drunk ISN'T FUNNY.

Back from commercial break, and in come the crows:

Okay, how is this not racist?

I think it's a safe bet that we won't be watching "Dumbo" again in the near future. 

Chic Geek

Hollister polo, retro Batman belt.  That about sums up the Big Kid.