Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Birthday flight

This was not the way the day was supposed to end, with LegoGuy’s head on the table, crying silently into the crook of his elbow. I had rushed to the store after yoga class to pick up a cake mix, and after dinner I’d whipped up a chocolate cake with homemade Hershey’s chocolate icing. Somehow, I’d ended up hurting the feelings of my 14-year-old son.

“I just poked him with a clothespin,” I said to SO, slightly stunned.

“You pinched him.”

“I pinned it on the seam of his shirt.”

“Obviously you caught skin, not shirt.”

“Oh, come on,” I said lightly, poking Lego with the clothespin one more time, thinking he was joking around with us. But he really was upset. Truth is, we were all on each other’s nerves last night and it didn’t take much to send one of us over the edge. Unfortunately, it ended up being the birthday boy.

Trying to make amends, I reached back into my memory for a miserable birthday story. "When I turned 8, I was chased up the top of a swing set because all the kids were pinching me so much. I was covered in bruises from head to toe."

Unimpressed, there was no response from LegoGuy.

Well, at least he enjoyed his birthday present. His obessession with the sky is still in full swing, and we arranged for him to take a Discovery Flight. He, along with a certified instructor (CI), flew a Cessna around the area for about an hour. I left him in CI's capable hands, and headed for my van. I wasn't able to leave, camping out in my van until I saw the two of them take off safely. I was aware that SO was at work, worrying a hole into the lining of his stomach, so I had to make sure there weren't any snags. What I didn't realize was my son was the one in the pilot seat. CI was sitting behind him, co-piloting. LegoGuy was the one in charge when they left the runway. His euphoria was evident when I picked him up at the end of the lesson.

"I told him I'd had some experience with a flight simulator, but it's nothing like the real thing!" LegoGuy told me. "He said I did pretty good on the take-off. Landing was a lot more difficult." Thankfully, CI had brought the plane down without incident.

"How come I never get an airplane ride for my birthday?" asked Sport, jealous.

"Hey, you got a football signed by the entire OU team! You've never even expressed an interest in flying."

LegoGuy laughed, his smile lighting up his entire face.

Each year, I find it more and more difficult to believe that this is the same kid we brought home from the hospital in 1993, both of us feeling shellshocked by our sudden change in status from couple to threesome. Kids really don't come with any kind of instruction manual. We did a lot of things wrong those first few months, but I think we've done a whole lot of things right over the years.

I'd taken LegoGuy's baby book out so we could look at it together, but after the pinching debacle, I went from Mother of the Year to Mommy Dearest. He went to his room and I went to bed, depressed and embarrassed.

This morning, I apologized and he forgave me. There's nothing like a hug from Mom and a big piece of cake lathered with homemade Hershey's chocolate icing to make everything right with the world.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Ha ha ha!

Most hilarious Valentine's Day gift I've ever received: a box of moist towelettes from Gypsy and CraftyMinx. Thanks for the laugh, guys!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Anti-Valentine's Day

“So, do you celebrate Valentine's Day, or do you see it as a soulless corporate holiday?” DoOL asked me yesterday.

What a loaded question! If I don’t celebrate it, do I come across as being anti-romantic and completely unappreciative of my beloved? If I admit that I do celebrate it, do I end up looking boastful and slightly needy? “Look at me, I got flowers. Because I’m worth it … right? Right?!”

It’s hard to get past the pain of Valentine’s Day etched into my fragile psyche during elementary school. These days, Sport and his classmates are sent home with notes instructing parents that, should our child choose to participate, all children must be given a valentine, with further instructions prohibiting personal messages. “Your child should sign his/her name only! Do not address them, leave the ‘To’ field blank.”

In my day, you could pick and choose who’d get a valentine, signed, sealed and delivered in its tiny white envelope. We could buy special, lace-covered masterpieces to give to the one we loved the best. How I dreaded looking through my artfully decorated shoebox for a special valentine that never came. All of us would count up how many we got, eagerly shouting out the number: “I got 11!” “I got 15!” “I got 20!” I was never the recipient of the most love tokens; popular girls like Sarah or Norma always claimed that honor.

Most teenage girls fill their angst-ridden hours of adolescence by reading romance novels, an exercise I am convinced seriously warped me. Those things completely deceived me as to what a real relationship with a man might be like. I’ve rarely met any male who acted like the main characters in these ridiculous stories, maddened by love to the point of entering into a marriage of convenience. And those long passages of annoying dialogue! Most men I know would rather swallow their tongues before uttering nonsense such as:

"I can promise to hurt you, to infuriate you, to be unreasonable and impatient, but no one will love you more. No one."


"I need to see the shape of your face though my hands. It's not enough to see it with my eyes. Do you understand?"

And this:

"I don't need your dowry, your parents, your Grecian temple, your pond, your abbey -- I don't need anything. All I want, all I need, is you."

A long time ago, SO and I decided not to take part in the much-hyped Valentine's Day. He got uncomfortable over my unstated expectations and I got uncomfortable with the competitive nature of it all, especially at work. When my boss got her yearly bouquet, she'd make such a big to do about it that the rest of us ended up feeling like we didn't measure up. I felt as if I'd regressed back to that 4th grade girl I'd been, shaking my shoebox to see if I'd gotten anymore valentines.

Instead, we make each other little cards and focus more attention on celebrating our anniversary, a date that's uniquely ours. I'd be lying if said I'd turn down a vase full of red roses. I'm a romantic at heart, God help me. But the one romantic boyfriend I had in college kind of got on my nerves. He was a sweetheart of a guy and always showed up for dates with flowers or candy or a card. But he was too nice of a guy. I wanted a guy with a bad boy edge, one not so desperate to please.

So, yes, Valentine's Day is all about the money. I take pleasure in sticking it to The Man and refusing to sell-out. As this guy/girl says, it's an overrated, capitalistic invention, and what you spend today is in no way a reflection of your true feelings for your beloved.

Plus, if you wait until tomorrow, you can get that heart-shaped box of Russell Stover's chocolated for half price. Nothing says "I love you" better than two for the price of one!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Weird like me

"Aaah, so you're Lego. I've heard a lot about you," said the father of one of my oldest son's classmates. We were standing in line to meet the 7th grade teachers at the middle school Open House, now optimistically called a "Showcase" in order to lull parents into thinking it's some kind of spectacular entertainment. Instead, it was the same old adolescent fare of self-conscious drama skits, song sung without clearly enunciated words, bands playing slightly off-key, and orchestras squeaking their strings.

LegoGuy's friend giggled, hiding her braces with a raised hand. My son just grinned. Lord knows what kind of things this girl had said to her family. I just hoped my kid wasn't cornering her in the hallway and popping her in the back with the clasp of her bra strap. That was one way the boys entertained themselves when I was a teen.

It was interesting to watch him interact with his peers. He seemed confident, at ease with everyone around him. They noticed him, gave him a "'Whassup?" or a slap on the back or murmured his name in passing. He looked normal, like he fit in, like he didn't have a weird gene in his body.

Maybe he gets all his weird quirks out at home. Some of the things he does lately just set my teeth on edge. His latest oddity is crawling into unexpected places and staying there, motionless, until one of us comes upon him unaware. Then he scares the bejeezus out of us. He doesn't say a word, doesn't jump out or scream. It's just that he's somewhere he shouldn't be, as still as a statue, and it's freaky.

It's no secret I had my weird moments growing up. I'm sure my parents noticed me doing all kinds of strange things, but here's what comes to mind:

1. The bizarre laugh: In 6th grade, I decided my laugh was completely unremarkable. Therefore, I had to come up with a new laugh. I experimented for awhile, then settled on a bizarre laugh that seemed to go on forever. In order to stretch it out, I'd inhale as deeply as I could, then exhale and laugh at the same time. It was exhausting, and eventually I gave it up. I'm sure my parents were thrilled.

2. The rapid clap: It was around this time that I experienced a huge surge of energy, and the only way I could get rid of it was by clapping rapidly for at least 3-5 minutes at a time, until my hands were stinging and sore. I remember my Dad glaring at me, patience completely gone. "Take it outside!" Still clapping, I obeyed.

3. The face stretch: We were a church-goin' family, parked on the hard pews every Sunday, Sunday night, Wednesday night missionary meetings, revivals, Bible studies, etc. I'd grasp at every straw to get me through the service. I probably studied the photos in my mother's wallet a hundred thousand times. (Had my parents really been that young? Who knew?) Then I discovered the odd pleasure of stretching my face. Bowing my head as if to pray, I'd used the palms of my hands to stretch my cheeks as far as I could stand before it got too painful. Then, release and recover. Repeat as often as necessary until the final sinner had prayed through at the altar. It's a wonder my jowls don't brush the concrete when I walk.

I'm sure there were many more. And it didn't end with adolescence. I've currently got enough weird ways to drive my husband crazy, what with my subhuman light sleep habits, my aversion to squeaky markers and my insistence on conversing in baby talk with my dog. Today, Gypsy and Minx made fun of my love for the phrase Moist Towelette* which would be -- I still believe -- a great name for a girl band.

I'm weird, and I'm proud.

*Hey, at least I'm not weird enough to collect these things.

Monday, February 05, 2007

"Do you believe you can win?" Duh!

Most hilarious thing overheard at Sunday’s Super Bowl party:

M: Do you believe that? Hey guys, did you see that?

SO (conversing with Son of Tex): See what?

DoOL: (Head down, concentrating on a Scrabble move, says nothing.)

AQ: Mmmm, sorry, wasn't paying attention.

C.F. Kats and her mother shrug. Both are doing schoolwork.

M: Unbelievable! This is a Superbowl party and nobody saw the play?

Sport: I saw it. He was in.

Hate to say it, but I was more mesmerized by the commercials and Prince’s half-time performance than by the actual game. Despite all of Saint’s efforts, I can’t find much in football that really appeals to me. If you’re gonna have athletes out on the field, at least take off some of the padding. (This is why I like soccer. At least I can see the muscular calves and thighs; I don’t have to imagine what they look like.) The best thing about this much-hyped event is the opportunity to get together with a bunch of friends, catch up, and eat a bunch of delicious but nutritionally-deficient junk food.

If you still haven’t yet had your fill of the Super Bowl, check out Sports Illustrated’s Dumbest Super Bowl Questions. My personal favorite is #15, followed closely by #13.

Friday, February 02, 2007

If Mama ain't happy... beware the veto!

"Mom, has President Bush vetoed anything?" Sport asked me on the way home from piano lessons.

"Uhhh, I think he vetoed some stem cell legislation," I said, a little stunned by the switch in conversation from playground antics to politics. "Why do you ask?"

"We're learning about presidents." And, I assumed, the power of the presidential veto. He went on to entertain me with trivia about Taft, Adams, and FDR.

LegoGuy and Sport get a hefty amount of political exposure due to the conversations their father and I have during dinner each night. We try to come up with one thing to share with the family, and I usually throw something out I heard on NPR during my drive home, which sparks a discussion with SO while the boys play with their food and throw napkins at each other. Over the years, they've learned enough to add a little something to the conversation. Sport, who knows how I feel about one possible Democratic presidential hopeful, saw the cover of a book I'd been reading. His eyes widened.

"Mom, it's Barack Obama! This is the answer to all your hopes and dreams."

Okay, all idols have feet of clay, but, as I told JrCat at work last week, let me cling to this thimbleful of hope. It's all I have to get me through the last 2 years of the Bush Nightmare (2000-2008).

Speaking of nightmares, last night I made another attempt to teach Scrabble to the boys. I have no memory of my own parents teaching me to play. Perhaps I sprung from my mother's body clutching a dictionary in one hand and a Scrabble rack in the other. Regardless, no matter how hard I try, I can't remember any lessons. It's as if I've always known how to play. Trying to teach the art of Scrabble strategy, however, doesn't come naturally to me at all. My level of patience, much lower at the end of the day then at the beginning, was getting very, very low.

After LegoGuy drew 5 E's from the bag, he was ready to throw in the towel.

"I give up! This is a sucky hand!"

"You can't give up in the middle of a game just because you don't like your letters. That's rude. You can pass and get a new hand if you want."

"A-N-N-E." Sport laid down his letters.

"You can't use proper names, remember? I've told you this before."


"LegoGuy, that's not even a word. You can't put a Y at the end of BEAN; it runs into ZOO. We've gone over this a hundred times."

He giggles.

"Trade you a D for a U," Sport whispers to his brother, and tiles slide across the table in a careful exchange.

"Doesn't work that way."

"I've got nothing." LegoGuy tilts his letters toward me. DEEFERA.

"Move the letters around until you see something."

"I did. There's nothing."

Quickly, I switch the D for the F.

"It's right there. FEEDER. See it? You've got to keep moving the tiles around until you see something. Or try to play off the end or the beginning of a word that's already in play."

By this time, I know I'm about to lose it, especially when Sport throws a fit when he can't find anyplace to go.

"That's it! Game over." In moments, the game is back in the box. The boys open their mouths to protest, but know by the expression on my face that resistance is futile.

A presidential veto doesn't hold a candle to the power of a maternal one.