Saturday, May 14, 2011

Palm to Head Parenting Moment #876

Sometimes the 9-year old can be, how shall we say? - incredibly literal.

A good example of this was the other day when I overheard her on the phone leaving a message for one of her friends:

"Hi. This is Dotter. I want to come over to your house so call me back."

I gasped in horror and said, "Honey! We don't just invite ourselves over to someone's house!"

To which she replied, "But I want to go over there." Because, duh, that's what she wanted to do.

So I said, "I get that... but you cannot just call people up and say 'I want to come over to your house' okay?"

The next day I overheard her calling again -- this time the mom answered:

"Hi. This is Dotter. I'm not allowed to say 'I want to come over to your house' but I want to play at your house, so can I?"

Friday, May 13, 2011

Why not go out on a limb? Isn't that where the fruit is?

Why not go out on a limb? Isn't that where the fruit is?
~Frank Scully

I grew up desperately wanting to be in theatre but I was always told that was stupid and only gays and lesbians were in theatre. For a while I believe my family seriously questioned my sexuality.

And although I loved the theatre with all my heart (there is nothing as magical as that moment in a cool, darkened theatre, united in silence, waiting in anticipation for the lights to go up) I was also logical enough to know I would never actually make any money in theatre. That’s why actors are all waiters and waitresses and the only experience I ever had with food was working at Subway for a year in high school, but we didn’t have to carry those huge, heavy trays with breakable plates on them. Although the worse thing I ever dropped was a slice of salami, I knew I probably wouldn’t be making any money waitressing either. (I have very weak upper arm strength.)

So, I figured if I could get a job teaching English then I could also teach theatre and coach forensics and get kids as excited as I was over the written and spoken word. Except I was told that teachers just sucked all the money from the hard working taxpayers and were lazy because they didn’t even work full time, what with summers off and all.

There came a point in my young adult life where I had to choose: Follow My Dreams? Or Attend Civil Thanksgiving Dinners with my family?

Now I find myself in my middle adult life pondering (seemingly along with many other middle adult person I know) whether or not I’m doing everything I can do. Should do. Ought to do. Am I fulfilling my purpose? And if I’m not, then what should I be doing? And what if it’s not as cool as I thought it would be? What if I want to do a certain thing but find out I really don’t like it? And what if I’m too old to learn something new?

Then it dawned on me: We all have the same life goal - to rescue Princess Toadstool.

I mean, isn’t that it? Rescue the princess and be the hero? Feel the clap of a proud hand on our backs and hear the congratulations and good jobs and I knew you could do its?

I’m not implying that your life mission is to actually conquer Super Mario Bros. (Well, except for some kids back in 1985.) I actually meant it as a metaphor.

See, when we sit down with the video game, controllers in hand, we know our goal: rescue the princess. To do this we know we have to travel through Mushroom Kingdom; a pleasant little kingdom with clear, blue skies and green grass and special coins and the occasional Super Mushroom.

But we are also aware this will be no easy-peasy walk in the park. There will be Goomba’s and Koopa Troopa’s intent on making our life a living hell and there will be times when, no matter how hard we try and how sincere our effort was, we will fall into a pit or simply run out of time.

Sometimes we clear the levels with a sense of ease and a feeling of I’m king of the world! Yet other times no matter what we do, we find ourselves trapped in the Minus World Glitch where we are forced to do the same level over... and over... and over...  and over... until we simply run out of lives. (Which is pretty much how every new mother feels around month 7 of staying at home. “All I do is change diapers and locate Sippy cups. Every. Single. Day. It never ends.”)

But, see, the point is that even though we know the challenges we will face in the game, we still try. And at the end, when we defeat Bowzer and finally rescue the princess we can say, “I hated that underground nonsense – hated it – but, look – I did what I came here to do. I rescued the princess.”

Even if you don’t ever rescue the princess (and I have never, ever rescued that blasted girl) – you tried. Maybe your kids watched you sucking playing and trying and enjoying yourself. I mean, really, what kind of role model says, “Oh, I’m probably not going to win so I’m not going to bother trying.”


Isn’t that what we are saying if we don’t go out on that limb and do what our heart is leading us to do in our real lives?

Because when you feel that gnawing at the back of your head whispering writer or school counselor or travel agent or volunteer or even divorced single mom… that’s your soul trying to get your body to go where it needs to go.  Everybody has their own personal Princess Toadstool they are trying to rescue: sail around the world, open your own bookstore, join the Peace Corps, learn to dance. You know what they are.

Either way, the questions insecurities still exist:

Am I too old?
What if it’s not what I thought it would be?
What if I don’t like it?
What if I make a mistake?

First off, if some 98 year old woman can graduate college, you are not too old, so let’s just take that one off the table.

And so what if it’s not what you thought it would be? What if you try and then decide you don’t like it? I don’t think you’d be making a mistake. You’d be growing. Evolving. Gaining new experiences. There is no mistake in that. Remember that. Commit that to memory. There is no mistake in growing.

Besides, nothing is wasted. Each level we get through makes us a little tougher, a little smarter and a little closer to rescuing the princess – and ourselves.

Oh, yes, I went out on a limb!

This past winter I was blessed to co-write a show with the
fabulous JaNelle Powers of Pelajia Productions.

Although the part I played was small...
it was, by far, the funniest one of the cast.
(Personal opinion only.) 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I have all of the eccentricities of a genius, just none of the talent.

Ever wanted to know how to waste an entire night of sleep?

First, when it's an obvious time to actually go to bed, say 10 o'clock pm, go through the entire house and start putting away anything that appears out of place. Put the shoes back nicely on the rug. Take the dirty glasses off the coffee table and put them in the kitchen sink. Decide now would be an appropriate time to scrub off the sticky residue from the side of the kitchen cabinet where twenty years ago one of those pale pink plastic pot holder hooks was once attached and how you've never bothered to try to remove it in the three years you've lived in this house but somehow you must remove it right now this very second.

Rush yourself to bed by eleven o'clock, because now it's getting late, and quickly recognize it is way too flipping hot in the bedroom but also notice how incredibly lazy you actually are so decide to just sweat it out.

Wiggle your feet and start getting fidgety because there is no way you can just fall asleep in a room that's so blasted hot, then try to take your mind off things by turning on the television and waste an hour of your life watching Real Housewives of Orange County.

Secretly admit you love the Real Housewives of Orange County and wish you knew what was going on because you haven't seen it in forever and what is this kiss with Fernanda they keep mentioning??

Watch another hour of TV because you suddenly find it of the utmost importance to find out if Bethenny sells her SkinnyGirl company.

Realize 45 minutes into the show that it's already quarter to one in the morning and hello?! Doesn't someone need to work in the morning?

Snap off TV.

Realize now you'll never know if Bethenny sold her company or not so make a mental note to google it tomorrow.

Get annoyed because your foot really itches and it's way too early for mosquitoes, isn't it? Pretty sure it was a spider that bit you. Probably running around the sheets right now looking for some other flesh to feast off of.

Try not to freak out because there are obviously a thousand spiders taking over your bed trying to suck your blood.

Do spiders suck blood?

Figure out a good game plan would be to touch feet with your sleeping buddy because that way the spiders can walk over from your feet to his feet and eat him.

Finally start drifting to sleep.

Wake up to your sleeping buddy pawing at you. (This is a polite way of saying it's 1:30 in the morning and he wants to "get busy.")

Respond with, "What are you doing?! Don't touch me!"

Have a twenty minute discussion about how it's your fault because you're sending mixed signals by touching his feet in the middle of the night.

Respond with, "So if someone brushes up against you, you automatically think they want to have sex with you?"

Realize that was mean and uncalled for but be way to stubborn to apologize.

Listen to the sounds of him snore.

As you lay wide awake.

Start to think your stomach hurts because it's getting bloated.

Or maybe you're constipated.

Or maybe you have gas.

Or maybe you're exhibiting signs of colon cancer.

Remember that the overall 5-year survival rate is about 64% and start panicking because you are way too young to die and also, even though you write about your children in such a way that might make people think you don't like your children, and also because sometimes you actually say out loud to people that your kids are driving you batty, you actually love your kids very much and don't want to miss out on anything in their lives and want to be there to see them graduate high school, and college, and get married and also go to the theatre and dinner together and then start gasping for air because you're pretty sure a panic attack is headed your way.

Wipe your tears and pray to God that He keeps your family healthy. Including you. Because you don't want to die. Ever. In fact, you want to live to be 103 and really don't care that everyone else thinks that's way too old. Imagine the party you'll get when you turn 100.

Look at the clock and realize it's now three in the morning and you're sweating to death.

Could be because of that window.

Open that sucker.

Start drifting to sleep.

Startle awake when your sleeping partner suddenly sits up in bed and yells, "I don't know what you'd do with 65 bottles of mustard!"

Watch him lay back down.

Start laughing so hard you cry because who does that?

Realize Sleep Talkin' Man does!

Think about how to make a successful blog from sleeping partner's middle of the night rants. But it has to be different than Sleep Talkin' Man because that's been done before.

Start drifting to sleep.

Decide you have to pee.

Choose to wait it out. It's almost morning.

Start drifting to sleep.

Realize you still have to pee. .


Get up and go to the bathroom.

Look in the mirror while washing your hands and wonder if you're going to be one of those old women with really, really, really wrinkly skin.

Decide to buy stronger moisturizer.

Go back to bed.

Listen to the clanging of the metal clip against the flagpole next door.


And over.

And over.

Think about how that would be a creepy scene in a movie. You know, a dark night, lit only by the dim light of the flagpole, a dead body at the base all contorted, silence except for the rhythmic clink. clink. clink. of the metal. And the camera slowly zooms out and upwards towards the still and blackened sky....

Think that's a right creepy image you just had.

Wonder if there's something psychologically wrong with you for thinking such a macabre thought.

Wonder if maybe it wasn't actually a macabre thought at all but rather a vision meant to stir you out of bed and check to see if there is a dead body laying at the base of the neighbor's flagpole so you can contact the police right away in order for them to get important evidence before the morning dew ruins it!

Decide there is no way in hell you are going to look out those curtains to see if there is a dead body in your neighbor's yard because what if the killers are still there and they see you in the window and decide to come kill you.

Lay there wondering if you are a morally deplorable human being for letting some poor woman die a slow and horrific death at the bottom of a flag pole.

Decide it's not worth getting murdered over.

Go to sleep.

Wake up to the alarm two short hours later.

Curse the dawn.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Because Sleeping Naked Isn't Nearly As Much Fun If Nobody Sees You.

From the 15-year old Bean last night:
"Mom, can you tell Big V that he shouldn't sleep naked anymore? Because the other night I was texting and my phone was running out of battery but I set the alarm so I could wake up at three in the morning because I like to get up and shower with enough time for my hair to dry so I can do it at six when I have to get ready for school and since I was going to take a shower anyway I thought I would just use your charger in your bedroom and just get my phone when I was done showering because I do that sometimes and then I opened the door and the light from the hallway showed me that Big V wasn't covered up with a sheet or blanket and I saw everything - and I mean ev-er-y-thing - and then I had to sneak in your room by walking with my back to the bed to get to your side where the phone charger was and that wasn't as easy as you would think but I couldn't just walk around like hey, I don't care that your junk is hanging out."

My immediate thoughts:
(1) Oh. Dear. God.

(2) Why don't you get your own phone charger since you're the one who lost yours in the first place and that way you don't have to use mine at strange hours of the night?

(3) What do you mean "because sometimes you do this?" You've actually walked around our bedroom at three in the morning before? Because I'm really not okay with that. Especially since I pretty much convinced myself that I would hear an intruder upon their initial breach across our property line and to know I've been sleeping through your nightly visits in my room is pretty creepy. I watch Criminal Minds, you know.

(4) Why the hell isn't Big V hearing you sneak around?! He had me convinced he would single-handedly take down any intruder that dare to enter our home uninvited. He should be drop kicking your ass before you step through the doorway.

(5) Have you ever considered taking a shower at a normal hour? Say, eight o'clock at night? And then your hair would have plenty of time to dry AND you wouldn't be exhibiting signs of a sociopath. Just something to consider.

(6) You saw his junk all splayed out? This is so embarrassing! And yet not as embarrassing as the time you walked in on us having relations because you heard sounds that made you think he was choking me and you were attempting to save my life.