Thursday, June 27, 2019

The Human Vacuum

My refrigerator sits, a cold, barren wasteland, like the tundra of Alaska. Well, if the Alaskan tundra had empty food storage containers strewn about. I open the pantry and to my horror, I fear that thieves broke in during the night and ransacked the snacks, leaving behind empty granola bar boxes, bags that hold individual servings of chips and popcorn, and a few stray Cheerios at the bottom of the box.

My heart begins to race. I just went grocery shopping yesterday! How can this be? All that food - and money - gone! In less than 24 hours, I am back to square one. Back to my refrigerator looking like that of a college frat house with a bottle of ketchup, one lonely yogurt cup and something mysterious wrapped in foil.

I’m startled out of my panic when I hear a familiar voice chime in from behind me heading ever closer to the crime scene.

“Mommmm, there’s nothing to eeeaaat!” the voice moans as if the person who owns the voice hadn’t eaten in days.

And then it hits me. We have not been robbed by a gang of ravenous bandits. This was an inside job orchestrated and executed by my dear, sweet, bottomless pit of a 14-year old son.

I answer to his cries of starvation, “There’s plenty of watermelon, I just cut it up!”

“Nope. I ate it,” human vacuum says with a grin.

Grrrrr..."That’s the empty watermelon container? Could you please not put empty containers back in the fridge?” I beg, tears welling in my eyes as I remember the days when I could go to the grocery store but once a week.

I continue with my usual rebuttals. “Chocolate pudding? Popcorn? Yogurt? Strawberries? Cereal?”

“Ummm, nope. All gone. The granola bars are done,too. I left the empty box in the cabinet so you would know. Just wanna help you, mom!” he says while putting his arm around me and giving me a loving, and I detect, sarcastic squeeze.

“You know what else is all gone, too? My money. So get creative, kid, and enjoy that ketchup, cup of yogurt and mystery item wrapped in foil until payday!”

Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Stomach Bug (as told by the classroom floor and trash can)

Floor: All day long, every day, I get walked on. Kicked. Dirt and goose poop get ground into my 1960s pores.

Trash can: We do have it pretty bad, don’t we? I mean, the teacher thinks she has it the worst? You see her crying when the kids are at art, grading that stack of papers while she stress eats 3 packs of Oreos from the vending machine. Pfft.  She's got it easy!

Floor: Yeah, and mumbling something about having to go pee but she also has to make 25 copies of 10 packets and the stapler in the machine wasn't working which meant she'd have to hand staple all those copies and she only had 20 minutes left.  Did she ever go pee?

Oh sorry, I digress. Please, enlighten me. How do you have it worse than me?

Trash can: Those kids throw booger-covered tissues and bloodied bandages in me from the 3-point line in the classroom!

Floor: Ahem. And when they miss, which they almost always do, they land on ME. So, you were saying?

Trash can: Paper towels that wipe down the filth of 25 eight-year-olds are nonchalantly tossed in me whenever the teacher has a minute to wipe down the desks in this place. And let’s not forget how I accompany the kids down the hall all winter long.

Floor: Ohhh right. The winter. (shudders)

Trash Can: Exactly! That walk of shame that I have to do, being held by some kid that is about to spew his Pop-Tart and chocolate milk breakfast of champions all over me!

Floor: Whoooa, hold on there, big guy. I have no warning! Zero! They just up and chuck all over me! At least you know that once they scoop you up and take you for a stroll, there is a very good likelihood that you will be the recipient of blown chunks. Me? One minute I’m relaxing while the kids are finally in their seats and I have a moment to myself and the next minute…

Trash Can: Ok, yeah. You win.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

One Out of 12 Ain't Bad

“Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?”

Well, Rent, glad you asked!

Since February just happens to be the worst month ever, let’s start out with that one. It is the saddest, darkest and strangely enough, shortest month. Twenty-eight days that seem to stretch on for years with its cold, black mornings of nothingness. We made it through the hectic holidays of December, a month that can be holly, jolly and fun for many but at the price of credit card debt, dysfunctional family get togethers, and misinterpreted “Happy Holidays!” and “Grrr, he didn’t say MERRY CHRISTMAS! Even though he was so pleasant and smiled. Why isn’t everyone participating in our beliefs?” We persevered through January, a month that starts off with resolutions of health and happiness and ends six weeks later in empty gyms and winter blues.

So, back to February. We muddle through, making Valentine’s Day into a holiday just to give ourselves some joy and chocolate in this bleak wasteland of winter. We even take off a Monday to stretch out a long weekend hoping Abe and George will give us a glimmer of hope in this most wretched month. Finally, the 28th comes, or in the godforsaken Leap Year, the 29th, and we gleefully rip February from our desk calendars in anticipation of March. March! Spring! Flowers and green, and sunshine!

Not so fast. Oh, March, you little lying weasel. You sneer at us like an evil villain pretending to bring hope because you carry the first day of spring in your pocket. You lure us to your windowless white van with your promises of candy and puppy dogs. But nope. Instead, you spit wreckless winds for 31 days, allowing April’s showers to show up like an unwanted in-law 30 days early. And then you have the gall to continue the temperatures of your ugly predecessor, February.

Then April comes hoppin’ down the bunny trail. Its pastel woven basket holds hopes of jellybeans and baby chicks and tulips and SPRING! The real SPRING! Hold on there, my marshmallow peeps. Sure, we are about two weeks into spring, but we all know how those May flowers are going to bloom. Yep. April showers. Downpours. N’oreasters. Heck, we might even get a good snowstorm this month. So, April? Your only redeeming quality is that you are one month closer to summer.

As we round out April, we head into the lovely sunshiney May. May you be happy now! May you find the joy that was sucked from you for the past 7 months! May you find a reason to get out of bed when the sunrise actually occurs before you open your eyes in the morning. Thank you, May for having 31 days. We relish every single one of them.

June, we’re not really sure what to think about you. You have such potential to be a great month, but sadly, you keep our children imprisoned in their schools until almost your last week! As if that’s not bad enough for the lil ones who just want out, think of the teachers trying to enrich their brains for those last three weeks! You bring such promise of summer and outside play and the anticipation of a long awaited break. But really, you’re just cruel.

July. July...what can I say? You are a close runner-up to May with your summer vacations, parades and fireworks, late nights with friends laughing and enjoying the laid back summa’ time living reminiscent of 80s Country Time Lemonade commercials. Sure, you bring on 100% humidity and bad hair days, but I’ll gladly wipe my brow with my hanky throughout the day for the sweet freedom you bring.

As we roll into August, some might still be enjoying a carefree summer break, but for anyone heading back to school soon, it’s a bittersweet month. Sometimes described as one long Sunday night, we know that September is hiding around the corner armed with freshly sharpened Ticonderoga pencils, crisp white notebook paper and a rainbow of new crayons, ready to jump out at any minute and scare the bejeezus out of us. It’s not only the back to school thing that is disappointing. It’s the mere threat that...winter is coming. Yep, in the wise words of Game of Thrones, it is. Maybe not tomorrow or next week or next month. But if you absolutely loathe temperatures below 65, August brings thoughts of fall which inevitably brings winter. And we all know how that goes. If you forgot, start at the top of this post.

Aside: We’re just skipping over September, October and November. Nothing notable here. Unless you’re into shipping the kids back to school so you can get back to lunching with friends, bulky sweaters and pumpkin everything, then have at it and celebrate!

So thank you, May, for being the one redeemable month in a dozen that could take a lesson or two from you and improve their games.

Let's hear from you! What's your favorite month and why? Or least favorite month? We like Positive Pollys and Pessimistic Pollys! All Pollys welcome!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Snow Daze

With the impending blizzards, ice storms, and other Disney-created winter shenanigans (yes, I’m blaming Disney. They have their hands in everything!  Friggin’ Elsa.), the Northeast continues to clamor to the grocery stores every five days to get their pick of French toast ingredients. Facebook becomes aflutter with photos of empty bread shelves and dairy cases.  Those that are SOL on just one more gallon of milk can be found sulking over dry Cheerios on Snow Day morning.

I, however, put a little forethought into these world-ending meteorological events and have assembled my own “Oh my God, we are going to be stuck in the house for ONE WHOLE DAY” survival package. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present the Snow Day Survival Kit:

  • Wine, ¾ of a bottle. Unlike what seems to be almost every other sloshed mom in the world, I only have alcohol in the house if we just had guests over or went to a BYOB restaurant. Well, lucky for me, hubby and I went out to dinner over the weekend and I have some liquid leftovers. I think there is a random Blue Moon in the garage somewhere by the wrenches, too. Such a feeling of freedom, of “it’s not a Saturday night, but it totally FEELS like a Saturday night, and I’m going to have a crazy glass of wine or beer from the bowels of the tool kit!” Because no one drinks wine any other night of the week.
    However, I can’t help to wonder - Why does having a Snow Day make one feel like one should drink? Why isn’t this any different from a typical day off? Maybe others were drinking all snow day long, but would these same people drink all day Saturday or Sunday? I do not take a single sip on my actual snow day off, as I have things to accomplish, like napping and standing outside in 25 degree weather while watching my child sled up and down a hill 2 times then just play in the snow with his friend. He could have played in the snow with his friend in my backyard. While I was INSIDE under a blanket. Not freezing.
  • Science experiments. My son received this kit for his birthday almost a year ago. I excitedly pulled it out of the playroom to add to my kit with high hopes of bonding over conducting experiments with recyclables. Now, I teach math and science. Everyday. To children that are the same age as my son. I could easily do without one more science experiment, but what else would he do? Play on his Xbox all day talking to his friends through his headset? This was my very blatant attempt at stealing my child away from the evil Box of X. See above photo for science experiment results. Make note of how well this went over. 
  • Cookies…Homemade, no less! By some Act of God, God being Martha Stewart,  I had every single ingredient in the house needed to make homemade chocolate chip cookies. This in itself is more earth-shattering news than the forthcoming blizzards considering when I attempt to make dinner, I am always without one key ingredient. I could not let these ingredients sit separately in the pantry when they could all have a snow day party together in my mixing bowl! Again, mom will win with homemade cookies and of course, I’ll get Monkey Man in on the act:
    “Hey, Monkey Man, want to help me make chocolate chip cookies?” I called out excitedly over Xbox chatter. 

    “Umm, now? Can I just finish this game? It’ll take like 2 minutes,” Monkey Man honestly responded, but I know better. I know that an Xbox game two minutes is equivalent to a football game two minutes.
After about 12 minutes, he appeared in the kitchen and helped me. For about three minutes. He then became quickly bored with this domestic act and asked to be relinquished to his online friends. Fine. More cookie dough batter for me - AND you’ll never know when they’re done and where I hid my mommy stash!

  • A book. I will indulgently snuggle under a blanket and read a big-kid chapter book that does not include lesson plans, education theories or other work-related material. While my sweet gamer loses brain cells to that box, I will sit on the couch, in my pajamas (which, by the way, although not pictured as an exhibit, is an absolute essential for a snow day. Or any day in which one is housebound) and read!  I will read funny words that do not include the words quotient, partial products or electrical current!
There you have it, all ye who shudder at the thought of being left French Toast-less for your next big snow day. Get yourself together a Snow Day Survival Kit and welcome the next 3-6 inches. Which, by the way, is currently falling outside my window. Again. On March 1.  F’in Elsa.

Gotta go find my Survival Kit!

What’s in your Survival Kit? 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Cooking and Baking and Making...Not I!

We have a snow day here in North Jersey.  I'm a teacher, my child is a student, so that means we are home all day!  However, I just want to put it out there that on this snow day I am not:

1. Cooking. Someone is roasting a butternut squash today to make soup.  Who has a butternut squash just lying around in case of a snow day?   
2. Baking.  Again, five different kinds of cookies are being made today by people in cyberspace.  I think I have flour, sugar and baking soda in my cabinet.  But these people are whipping up cookies with ingredients like raspberry preserves and ricotta cheese and Crunch bars. (Fine, I know it's Christmas cookie season, but just let me have my rant...)

3. Making crafts with my child.  I learned he hated crafts when he was two, so this is never happening regardless of what Pinterest crap pops up on my newsfeed today.

(above facts provided by Facebook, the official source to know everyone else's sh&%)

I am getting a boatload of paperwork done! Bills to pay, calls to make, lessons to other words, thank God for XBox.

However, I am taking said child sledding after lunch to ease my guilt of holing myself up in my room while I sift through everything that's been not-so-patiently waiting for me on my desk.

Whew. That was cheaper than a therapist. Thanks for listening.

Monday, December 2, 2013

You’re a Mean One, Mama Grinch

Call me a Grinch, there, it’s said
but I must admit it, this month I dread.

The month of December just adds more things to my already overflowing to-do list.  Here are the Top 10 Things I’d Rather Not Be Doing in December (or ever): 

10. Shopping with Hoards of People
Grocery shopping on a Saturday afternoon in July is equivalent to slowly being poked in the eyeballs with barbeque skewers.  Any kind of shopping in December on any day of the week at any time of the day is like walking into 20 foot icicles hanging from my home and having them conveniently land in all orifices of my body while “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” plays on loop.

9. Cooking or Baking
I don’t enjoy either in my everyday life so why on Earth would I want to do mass quantities of it in just a few short weeks? 

8. Making Cards, Addressing Cards, and Mailing Cards
You see my family and me on Facebook, isn’t that enough?  And really, what do you do with the card when the season is over? If I told you what I did with the cards I receive after their three-week basket display, I probably wouldn’t ever receive another card again.  Let's save some trees, people, and my sanity!    

7. Receiving “Wish Lists” to Know Exactly What Someone Wants
Unless you are a child making your list for Santa, just stop it.  This takes the joy out of giving!  Okay, it’s great that I have a guide, but seriously, what fun is it to buy the purple cashmere sweater in the back right corner of Macy’s next to the mannequin with the curly hair?  Then I have to present this gift to the recipient as if it were all a big surprise.  Here’s 100 bucks.  Go fight the crowds and get it yourself.

6. Embarking on a Manhunt for the Perfect Gift
Fine, if we just stuck with #7 for people of all ages, this could easily be avoided.  However, I like to have some kind of element of surprise.  I like to give a gift that shows thought and creativity, like I actually know what a person likes and can translate that into a gift.  Oh, forget it.  We all know I’ll just get a gift card.

5. Seeing on Facebook that “Friends” Were Done Wrapping Their Gifts on November 20th
Show-offs! They get their holiday jollies from feeling superior to us worker elves grimacing through the season. Let’s add to that photos of fully completed house decorations posted with the status “Done!”  They are begging for comments like, “Wow, you’re good!” But I beg to differ! They simply have way too much time on their hands or the incessant need for praise via social media.

4. Buying a Gift for Someone at Work Whom I Barely Know
“Hey, I think I saw you in the hallway one day and now I’m your Secret Holiday Little Person.  Now I get to buy you a generic gift like a candle that you will re-gift at your next generic party. Happy Generic Holidays!”

3. Attending Holiday Parties and Pretending That I Enjoy Small Talk
I don’t mind putting on a pretty dress and sipping a cocktail or two.  However, I’ll probably have to sip three or four just to get me through the dull conversation with Joshua the financial person who does financial things while I try to stifle a yawn between gulps of my cocktail.  Joshua has no idea he is causing me to become an alcoholic as I have to keep drinking to avoid disagreeing with his political and religious beliefs that he is trying to jam down my already alcohol-filled throat.  

2. Decorating Inside and Outside, but Mostly Outside
Our inside decorations take about an hour, start to finish.  Throw up a tree, hang some stockings, and we’re calling it a holly, jolly Christmas.  However it’s the outside that pains me because 1) I will always find the time to do this task on the coldest day of the year and 2) I’m afraid of heights and fear that I will fall 18 inches to my death from my step stool.   I don’t decorate with love in my heart, singing “Deck the Halls,” but rather, for my son’s memories. One day he will look back and remember his pretty house decorated by a Grinch at Christmastime. 

And the #1 Thing I’d Rather Not Be Doing in December? Elf on the F’in Shelf
Before Elf on the Shelf became popular, I created my own imaginary elf just to give myself something else to do in December.  Our imaginary elf visits each night from December 1 through December 24 and leaves a small chocolate like a candy kiss and sometimes a miniature note for our son in our cloth Christmas calendar that hangs by the front door.  He loves it, and that’s why the tradition has continued even though 10 of those days I'll be be awoken by a cry of, "Mommmm! The elf didn't come!" while I curse under my breath at our senile elf.  The “elf” forgets a lot of things when her brain is overloaded, which is everyday, and now the elf must bolt down the stairs, create a diversion, put the candy in the tiny calendar pocket, call her son back over to the calendar and tell her son that he just must have missed it, because, “Look, it’s right there!”

But I digress.  I hate Elf on the Shelf.  We never started the corporate one, and now he asks what it is and why that creepy doll doesn’t show up at our house.  I have to explain that OUR elf is all magical and mysterious and miraculously tiny while his friends’ elves stare eerily from atop kitchen cabinets and poop holiday m&m's leaving them all over the countertop to bring for school snack.

Let us “Bah Humbug” together - anything you don’t particularly look forward to during this festive, overpacked season?   

Saturday, November 9, 2013

You Gave a Life. Now Get One.

Memo from Mom

To: Parents (probably more the moms, but I’m not going to assume that) of school-aged children
Re: You gave a life.  Now get one, too.

As our children grow older, we are faced with this conflicting moment when they simply don’t need us as much anymore.  They don’t need us sitting on the floor playing cars and trains (sniffle, sniffle).  But, OH! They don’t need us sitting on the floor playing cars and trains!  (hooray! hooray!) No more pretending like I enjoy making choo-choo noises for hours on end.

They are off to school, spending hours in a classroom with an adult who is paid to expand their minds while entertaining them and running interference with the myriad social situations they will encounter. Mama is no longer there refereeing the sandbox watching out for the little girl in pigtails who looks like an angel but is actually the devil’s spawn. 

Our children naturally want to spend less time with the people that brought them into this world, more time with the people that will teach them things about the world that their parents never wanted them to learn about, and, in a nutshell, gain their independence. This phase can leave many of us sitting on the living room floor wondering what to do with all those cars and trains. 

If I may be so bold, let me tell you what to do.  Stand up and go get yourself a life!  They don’t need you to spend three hours pureeing their sweet potatoes anymore (not that they really needed that, Gerber had it under control).  Mommy and Me classes are a thing of the past replaced by after-school and weekend sports and activities.  Leisurely walks around the neighborhood with a mommy friend at 10 a.m. pushing strollers have now become bike rides on a Sunday afternoon.  Those dependent babies are now independence-seeking school kids spending five days a week, approximately seven hours a day, in school.  They are learning about how to become productive citizens.  Now it’s your turn. 

It’s time to show your kids what you’re made of!  Let them see that you exist beyond getting whites whiter and perfecting your crock pot recipe by stalking Pinterest.  I’ve seen too many parent “living vicariously through my kid” casualties to let it go on any longer.  Your daughter’s perfect landing at the gymnastics meet was not your perfect landing.  It was hers.  Your son’s “Star of the Day” award from Kindergarten was not yours.  It was his.  And telling everyone and their brother about it still doesn’t make it yours.  Yes, you’re proud.  We are ALL proud of our kids.  Go on, be proud.  But also, be yourself. 

Have something that’s yours, something that makes you feel good other than telling the world that your kid doesn’t eat red dyes because you are mother of the year and we are all here just hooking up our children to artifical dye IVs.  Do something that belongs to you.  If you need or want to work, go back to your career or start a new career.  If you have the luxury (yep, I said it, luxury) of staying home while the kids are at school, get a hobby that keeps you engaged and makes you feel good about what YOU can do.  This does not mean cleaning out the closets and alphabetizing the spice rack.  Spend the time that your kids are in school learning about the world and themselves learning about the world and yourself.   

Please stop trying to find your self-worth from your children.  All of us parents do the best we can, have the best of intentions, and we rock in our own ways.  Your child’s successes don’t make you awesome, they make him awesome.  Now it’s your turn to go out and find your own awesomeness.