Monday, February 28, 2011

The Wilds of Girl-dom

The hours I’ve spent at Boy Wonder’s school have rendered me melancholy lately.

Funny how little boys rarely change over time—the ones I see walking the hallowed halls still talk about sports, they still play pranks on their buddies, still make those armpit farting noises with reckless abandon. Still ignore girls for the most part…

But the girls? No, I don’t see the same faces I grew up with in some of today’s girls.

There have been days when I’ve had to re-orient myself just to make sure I’m not at a nightclub on a random Friday night.

That I am, in fact, at an elementary school.

My ears have burned at the way they talk to each other. I’ve hidden my broke-down cellphone away in shame when they pop out the latest G4 gadgets at the sounding of the afternoon bell. The mini skirts I was never allowed to look at. The knowledge they’ve picked up long before they should have it.

It’s all led me to one conclusion:

I never would have made in today’s elementary school world.

These poor girls are body conscious by the time they zip up their first princess Ariel costume. Some have boobs in second grade. They have boyfriends and are breaking up with said boyfriends before they can spell the word boyfriend. They have little girl alliances that work surreptitiously to topple the nexus of power of the other little girl alliances. They trade friends like we used to trade worn out copies of “The Babysitter’s Club” and “Sweet Valley High.”

I’m actually intimidated by some of these girls. I’m afraid of making eye contact, lest I be deemed less than worthy.

In fourth grade I had a mullet.

No, really, people. It was a mullet with a capital M. Add to this mullet what’s known as a “rat tail” and you’ll not have to wonder why my first date wasn’t until nearly my junior year in high school. I was a late bloomer and in the 80s, that was just fine.

Friday and Saturday nights were spent at the neighborhood roller rink where I sported neon wind shorts, a Bobby Brown t-shirt with the sleeves rolled up (and tucked in to my neon wind shorts, thankee very much), my god-awful hair, and bright blue roller skates with an orange stopper on each toe.

I sang along and whizzed around in large circles to Rick Astley and any Def Lepard track they graced us with. I was never, ever the object of anyone’s affection, except, perhaps, the snack bar guy…but that’s only because I’d spend a small fortune on churros and Cherry Coke. The couples skate was lame and nothing more than an opportunity to clown the teenaged girls unlucky enough to have to skate backwards for an entire song. I loved it when they fell.

I was a nerd. Plain and simple. I had a best friend who went everywhere with me. Who I encouraged to do stupid things so that I’d have someone grounded the same time I was. Back in those days, there were no Ipods with songs like “Birthday Sex” or “Tooted and Booted”. There were songs we taped off the radio and played over and over (always fast forwarding through commercials) on our boom boxes. Double Dare came on every afternoon and if I wasn’t grounded for some infraction or another, I was allowed to watch it. Social Networking consisted of spying on my neighbors from the top branch of my tree with Smurf binoculars my grandparents gave me. Whatever.

The sad truth is that I would have been eaten alive in 2011.

I would have been banished to the back of the class and become queen of the paste eater tribe. That odd-looking recluse that cut her bangs with safety scissors when the teacher wasn’t looking. Pretty sure I would have had an excuse and phantom ailment every morning for my mom—anything to avoid returning to the wilds of modern elementary school.

Thank goodness my first child is a boychild. And my second child is a boychild. I consider them lucky, and myself doubly so for a chance to learn the ropes well enough before baby sister arrives.

Somedays it looks like she’s going to need all the help she can get.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Burdens: A round for everyone!

I read a great post on one of my favorite Web sites about pride.

The writer was very clear that pride can mean quite a few things and she even provided a list of examples. With bullets, people!

Do you understand how shocking it can be to find your own personality traits on someone else’s pride list? My reaction ran the gamut.

Humbling. Embarrassing. Annoying.

I mention the pride thing because lately things have been relatively smooth. And then I go and trip on my own big ego…

Well, smooth up until the root canal and the brakes going out, and now… money/tax drama. I’d been doing fine, feeling fine, acting fine... thinking I’d finally gotten my stuff and stuff together and whatever wasn’t together, well, it didn’t matter. Obviously.

I guess I’m here to tell you, it most certainly does matter.

This lack of attention to detail…this ignoring the unpleasant tasks in life…guess what? Form of pride. It’s refusing to lower myself to tasks I dislike just to get them checked off my list. And DAMMIT, does it sting when they bite back. That whole Pride before the Fall thing really chaps my hide…

I called P in tears and explained the various stuff and stuffs and sniffled and snotted all over the place and you know what the man told me? Not buying into my pity party, he told me to get it together and keep a little perspective. Not exactly the pity party I wanted, but it got the job done. I un-smudged my mascara and hauled my carcass back up to my desk and went about my day. Work still needed to get done. Kids still needed to get picked up. Dinner still needs to be made.

Life goes on.

I know God has a plan for my life and that it’s a good one. I’d just like a copy of it…complete with a table of contents, a few appendices for further explanation, and a chance to voice an opinion now and then for scheduled and unscheduled surprises. Not gonna happen anytime soon, I know…

An informal poll of my friends revealed that at every given moment, every single one of them is dealing with some sort of energy-sucking trouble. Money. Cars. Spouses. Kids. Houses. Bills. Deadlines. Health scares. The list is endless. But so are the cures.

So while I am not happy that you are rowing your boat against the current alongside me, I am happy for the company.

And when the waters calm, maybe we can split my peanut butter sandwich. Or whatever you packed if it’s better tasting. Just sayin'...

Here's to a better week all around.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A baby by any other name may not smell as sweet...

Do you know that Boo was very nearly named "Bilbo Baggins"?

Well, it was an idle threat I lobbed at his father out of sheer frustration around month number five when the man still refused to have the name discussion with me. He's a "wait and see what name sticks when thrown against a wall" and I'm the obnoxious "let's talk about every name in the name book until you wave the white flag" sort of namer.

The other possibility was naming Boo "Polamalu" as the dude was due on the very same Super Bowl Sunday that the Steelers were playing. The deal was that if the stinker hadn't arrived yet, and he happened to make his appearance on Super Bowl Sunday, it was a done deal. He came a week later and blew that attempt right out of the water. Oh, and because of his tardiness (SIX WHOLE DAYS) the turkey weighed over 9 pounds. Just in case you forgot...'cause I haven't!

Dominic hovered on "Aiden" for a minute. Not much longer than that. Then it was "Luke" (I was going to a St. Luke's Church in New Mexico at the time and lacked creativity.) Then it was "nameless" baby until inspiration struck one evening I sat outside with a lonely telescope in the front yard. St. Dominic, patron saint of astronomers. Done deal.

Andrew, well, his name wasn't at the top of my list by any means. I was all about "Griffin" and "Gabriel" and all sorts of cool, hip sounding monikers and his dad was having NONE of it. Andrew was weakly on my list and was the one name that stuck to P's wall that I didn't make gagging noises at. And there it was. Not the big epiphany either of us were hoping for, but it worked out well in the end. The name is perfect for him.

It seems easy to name a boy--your one job is to make them sound manly and tough. Distinguished and non-pansy-ish.

But, oh my lord, a girl? So many parameters you have to abide by. Nothing too froo froo, but nothing too boyish. Sweet and girly with a touch of toughness in case she's destined to be the state wrestling champ of 2028.

And we all know P's refusal to really entertain/decide on anything too early. Coupled with my ever-changing, ever-growing list of "This is totally the one! Maybe..." and it seems we're going to have another case of "Bilbette Baggins Applegate" come mid-summer.

That, and truckloads of dirty girl diapers...which I hear are thirty times worse than dirty boy diapers. Just rumors.

It's a lot of pressure, really. The chance to name your daughter (when you are a mother) is a chance to undo all the teasing, all the poking, all the wrong your own mother caused when naming you. (Not that Debra did all that much wrong, mind you, I've just always thought my name was damn boring. And common. Uninspiring. The least she could have done is thrown an arbitrary "y" or "h" in there to shake things up!)

Growing up, I wanted to be Marsha Brady. Changed my name to "Marsha" for about a week and a half. Then it was "Daisy Duke" in the summer of '84. Names are powerful, powerful tools and I've always been aware of the fact.

And now it's my turn to make the big decision for my own daughter and I'm coming up clueless. Sure, we like this and we like that...but nothing has really slapped me upside the face and shaken me yet. (Well, the root canal last week did, but that's another story that I'm still recovering from.)

Dom's contributed his part. He's still onboard for "Emily Elizabeth" in honor of his very first television crush from "Clifford the Big Red Dog." Not sure that flies with me, but it's damned cute.

And Boo? Well, he'll probably end up calling her "NO! NO! NO!" regardless of what her birth certificate says. Call it a premonition.

Onward, people...onward. Save us from Bilbette Baggins Applegate...

Friday, February 11, 2011

To Andrew...on the occasion of your second birthday

"Up, up here we go..."

To our very own little Rocketeer,

The fact that I'm writing this in the midst of you cutting your two-year molars and I'm still being nice to you really says something about the type of impression you have made in our lives.

Last year I wrote to you about what an individual you are and, m'dear, that hasn't changed one bit. In fact, I think if it were possible to be MORE of your own person 12 months later, you have figured it out.

Yet, at the same time, there's this full-on affection you bring with you that just takes my breath away. You can melt your daddy with a hug and you can make any owwie better with an "You alright, Mama? You alright?"

Your compassion and your concern for your family is beyond touching and something that is all you...came from within and expresses itself in all sorts of creative ways through your everyday actions.

But let's not forget your sense of humor. As I write this, you are running laps in your diaper around the kitchen table while your Dad studies. You're a raging ball of white hot energy and you make every day with you an adventure.

At this point in your distinguished career you love the following things in the following order:
  • Elmo
  • reruns of America's Funniest Videos (or what you call "Andrew's Show")
  • monkeys
  • going to the "pool" (bath tub!)
  • watching basketball with Mama
  • anything chocolate (with peanut butter is a bonus)
  • dragging a chair to the kitchen and helping during dinner prep
  • doing everything your brother does
  • stealing whatever your brother has
  • diving into bed with your brother at bedtime (his bed, not yours)
  • the dog
  • the cat
  • leaving in the morning (you're very busy and important these days)
  • stealing bags of chips from the hall closet
Life is beautiful and full with you in it and it seems as though you've figured out your place in our family with very little assistance and in your own style. As you get ready to leave the position of "baby" in the family behind, I'm excited to watch you grow into a big brother. What sort of boy will you be? Will you be protective? Will you take all the pink and tiaras in stride?

We have no doubt you will, little man. Family is what drives your world these days and it's going to be a beautiful thing to watch.

Happy Birthday, Boo! We love you!