The most adulty-adult

birthday emoticonRecently, my family and I were over at a friend’s house for their son’s birthday party.  It was a party for a four year old, so there was a lot of fun stuff going on.  There was a clown doing balloon sculptures and face painting.  There were awesome little arts and craft activities and a bounce house.  Of course, all the kids LOVED the bounce house.  So, imagine lot’s of young children running around a picturesque yard with no shoes, squealing in delight over the endless fun of the afternoon.

And where there’s fun, there’s bound to be drama.

I was sitting on some patio furniture talking with friends when I see the hostess of the party run into the back door of the house with another mother and her child clutched in her arms.  They were frantic.  I could tell something bad had happened by the way the women were reacting and rushing the child into the house.  A busted lip?  A cut to the forehead?  Did the child need immediate medical attention?  Stitches?  Who knows….it’s not my circus, or my monkeys.  My kids were not involved, so I thought the best thing to do was to not over-react and let the adults in charge handle the situation.

A few minutes later, the hostess of the party (and I should mention she is a good friend and a great mother) poked her head out the back door and asked me to come inside.  I gave my husband the ‘uh-oh’ look and walked into the house, where I was met with complete chaos.

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Both my friend and the other mother were frantically rushing around and talking loudly in panicked voices.  The child that I saw being rushed into the house, a beautiful little girl about five years old, was sitting on the bathroom counter with her feet in the sink soaking in cold water.  She was crying uncontrollably.  I didn’t see any blood or immediate signs of injury.

cute beeMy friend says, “She stepped on a bee and we’re not sure what we need to do!  We took out the stinger but she’s still crying and it’s swelling!  I knew YOU would know what to do!”  There was a first aid kit on the counter with all kinds of gauze, medical tape and bandages spread out everywhere.

What?  They think I’m the most capable adult to handle this situation?  When did I become the most adulty adult?  When did I become the person you grab when you don’t know what to do?

I looked at the girl’s foot and there was no swelling.  There was a tiny red mark where she had been stung.  That’s it.  She was simply terrified and carrying on because the adults in the room were upset.  I guess I’m still surprised how many parents don’t realize that if you don’t lose your shit in front of your kids, more often than not, your kids won’t lose their shit either.  I realize that sometimes it’s hard not to freak out when your child is upset or in pain.  And it’s even harder to be objective when it’s your child whose experiencing something traumatic.    But kids need to have faith that their parents can handle anything.  They need to know that you are in charge and you are capable of seeing them through the tough shit in life.  And when you’re five, your first bee sting is some tough shit.  I guess my ability to keep calm in these situations is what makes me the most adulty adult.  Sigh.  That thought is so depressing.

I didn’t do anything heroic to save the day.  I asked the sweet little girl what her favorite song was and asked her if she could sing it to me so I could hear what I was certain would be a beautiful voice.  She immediately stopped crying, beamed her pleasure at me with a toothless grin, and began belting out Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.  While she sang, I put a Band-Aid over the red spot on her foot.  All better.

Her mother threw her arms around me and hugged me so tight, thanking me for my help.  I left the room and went back outside to sit by my husband.  He asked what happened and after relaying the events to him I said, “That I’m the most adulty-adult at this party really scares the shit out of me.”  🙂

Good morning!

That moment, in the early hours of the morning, when it’s still dark outside, and your kid, who managed to wiggle their way into your bed in the middle of the night, suddenly sits up and declares with panic in his voice, “My tummy hurts.”

Nooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!

You bolt awake, adrenaline filling your system as you grab your child, and run as fast as you can to the bathroom before Mount Vesuvius erupts in the middle of your bed.  You just changed the sheets and a bed full of vomit is not something you want to deal with at 5am.

An hour later, after cuddling him through the stomach cramps, wiping his tears of fear, rubbing his back, administering Sprite, Tums, and a few Saltine crackers to get something in his stomach to absorb the acid, he looks at you and says, “I guess I just had to fart a couple of times, mommy.  I’m ok.”

So, yeah.  Good morning.

What’s up with Wanda?

Hello, world!

Lately I seem to have difficulty finding time to attend this blog with any regularity.  I’m envious of all the amazing bloggers I follow who seem to have the time, energy, and creativity to post weekly, if not multiple times each week.  How do you do it?  If I can post once every two weeks, I feel accomplished.  And in order to do that I have to hide from my family and make them pretend I’m not home.  I am so very behind on my blog reading, it’s pitiful.  I’m trying to catch up, so if you see me comment or like five of your posts in one day, I’m not really stalking you.  Much.  As far as you know.

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I guess this post is really just a mish-mash of catching up.  You know, sort of a ‘What’s up with Wanda?” kind of thing.  Not very exciting, but here goes…

happy squidBryn got home from camp!  She was tired, happy,  and her dirty laundry smelled like Hell farted in her face.  I’m not kidding.  I gagged as I was loading the washing machine.  It was a weird combination of body odor, some outdoorsy kind of smell, and dirt.  Aside from that, I was so happy to have her home!  You could say I was giddy.  I couldn’t stop hugging her and I could tell she wanted to be hugged.  She said she had a great time, and they kept the kids so busy she didn’t have time to miss us.  They did nature hikes every day, learned some cool outdoor skills, and got to do fun science experiments that included dissecting a squid and building a model structure that was designed to withstand an earthquake.  They studied marine biology, engineering and geology.  She loved it and we all survived the week.  Well, everyone but the squid.

The hubs and I started the My Fit Foods 21 Day Challenge, and we are currently on day 14.  No coffee, no alcohol, and no sugar for 21 days.  The diet involves eating three meals and two snacks per day, and My Fit Foods provides all the meals and snacks, fully balanced and portion controlled.  The diet is completely clean with no processed food, gluten or added preservatives.  The food is pretty good.  Honestly.  The hardest part is denying yourself all the things you would normally eat or drink that become routine and habit forming.  Like coffee.  And wine.  I really miss coffee and wine. 11188254_10152787327525737_6854965520899974824_n[1] I also miss eating out.  I love good restaurants, and eating out is a huge part of our social activity as a family and while spending time with friends.  That’s been one of the hardest habits to break in the past two weeks.  Oh, and you also have to drink what they call the My Fit Cocktail.  You mix it up first thing in the morning and down it before breakfast.  It’s a combination of unsweetened cranberry juice, apple-cider vinegar, and lemon juice.  It’s like a super cleanse, detoxifying punch to the face.  I won’t miss that when the 21 days are over.  We started this challenge as a way to break some of the bad habits we’d fallen into with ordering out and just over-indulging in our favorite restaurants and meals, far too often.  Also, despite my working out with a trainer, my ass seems determined to hang on to its double-bubble, and I needed to shake that up.  So far, it’s paid off.  Dan has lost eight pounds in 14 days, and I’ve lost five.  The plan is expensive, so not something a person or family can sustain over more than a few weeks time.  It’s also time consuming in a way.  Although the program prepares all the food for you, you still have to deconstruct the meals so that you can eventually re-create the type of meals you need to eat on your own once you finish the challenge.  That’s what I hate about dieting in general.  It’s the constant awareness of everything you eat, why you eat it, how often you eat, and the combination of foods to maximize the effect on your body.  It’s exhausting, and did I mention that I really miss wine?

Amen

Amen

My son had his pre-K promotion ceremony last week!  The two classes put on a Hawaiian themed performance, singing Beach Boys songs and muddling through some nicely choreographed but poorly executed dance moves.  At the end they were all called up by the pre-school director and given little scrolls of paper tied to look like diplomas, but in actuality the papers were blank.  (The kids were given real certificates later.)  It was adorable, and as usual, most of the parents devolved into the most self-centered, inconsiderate versions of themselves.  It’s sad really.  It seems every parent is willing to piss off ten others by hogging the good camera angles instead of just getting their picture of their kid and then moving aside so another family can get some decent pictures.  We have no useable pictures of Bryce because of the mob of parents who kept standing up to take pictures, or kept raising their cell phones above their heads to video the performance.  All we have are pictures of the top of Bryce’s head and the arms and asses of several other parents who refused to sit down, despite the director halting the show to ask parents to be considerate of others in the room.  Dan was about to lose his shit because the dad sitting in front of us kept standing up every time Dan tried to get a picture.  He started to get mouthy with the guy, so I leaned over and quietly informed him that the asshole in question was the father of the boy whose birthday party Bryce was invited to the next day.  He’s actually a really nice guy.  So, the bottom line is, don’t be that parent.  Don’t be the douche-bag dad or mom who only cares about their own kid at a performance and denies other families the opportunity to enjoy the experience as well.  And remember, all the other parents whose experience you ruined, will talk about your douche-baggery for years to come.

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My older brother, who is also one of my best friends, had major back surgery yesterday morning.  He has a degenerative disc disease that destroyed the cushion between a few of his lower vertebrae, and he was at the end of his options for any type of less invasive medical intervention.  He’s only 42 years old and has been living with chronic, debilitating back pain for years.  Yesterday morning he had an ALIF (Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion) for L5-S1.  Let me tell you, it’s some serious shit.  The surgeon entered through his abdomen to reach and fuse the lower part of his spine.  Think about that for a moment, and let the gravity of what that entails sink in.  He made it through surgery like a boss, and I’ll be traveling to Texas next week to help my sister-in-law take care of him while he’s recovering.  I’m anxious to be there with him, and the past week building up to the procedure has been stressful.

So, there you have it.  That pretty much sums up the past two weeks.  Throw in some housework, ten thousand loads of laundry, constant ass-kicking’s from my trainer, some butt-wiping, end of year school activities and there’s my full plate.  🙂  And just to leave you with something funny that made me laugh…..

Have a great weekend!

Have a great weekend!

 

Wanda Says…Settle down tiger, it’s just camp.

kids campI sent my daughter off to camp today.

Her entire fifth grade class left this morning for science camp.  They get to spend five days in the San Bernardino Mountains, doing science experiments, learning about nature and doing a ton of other cool stuff, like archery and zip-lining.

Five days.

And no contact with parents is allowed.

No contact.  For five, whole days.

I’m a fucking mess.

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She was pretty nervous about going, and the last few days have been hard for both of us.  Hard for her because she was suffering from anxiety and nerves.  She’s never been away from us for that long.  Hell, she only started feeling comfortable doing sleep-overs this year, and she’s ten years old.  Outwardly, I’ve been supportive and encouraging.  I know this is important.  I know she needs to spread her wings and begin to learn to be more independent.  She needs to see how capable she really is, and that can only be achieved by working through tough stuff.  In this case, it’s working through her separation anxiety and realizing that she will be ok and can have fun, even when she’s missing her family.  In this sense I’ve done nothing but tell her how much fun she’ll have and what amazing memories she’ll make.

Angry VolcanoInwardly, I want to shout and scream and demand that the school bring my baby home now!  I can’t believe I paid for this shit!  I can’t believe I agreed to let my daughter go two hours away into the mountains and be supervised by people I’ve never met.  Doomsday images keep floating through my head.  What if there’s an earthquake?  THE earthquake?  The big one that will supposedly redefine the west coast?  How would I get to her?  What if there’s a bus crash?  What if she meets up with a bear?  What if some asshole ten year old from her class shoots her with a goddamn archery arrow?  What if one hair on her beautiful head is damaged in any way?  I will go ape shit and rip that camp apart looking for retribution, that’s what!

(I’m taking some deep breaths right now.)

This was probably the wrong week for me to give up wine and coffee, but that’s a post for another day.

The truth is that my heart feels like it has a giant hole in it.  The house feels empty.  The hallways sound hollow.  She’s only been gone for twelve hours and her absence has left its mark on all of us.  This morning her little brother cried.  He loves her so much, and he couldn’t understand why his Bryn was leaving for so many days.  I held it together until the bus pulled away from the school.  Then I couldn’t stop the tears.  Other parents saw me quietly crying, despite my giant sunglasses covering my face.  They offered me sympathetic looks and as a few of them tried to talk to me all I could do was put up my hand to ward them off and march home, crying the entire way.  My husband held me and offered to take the day off work so we could spend the day together and take my mind off of Bryn’s absence.  While I adore his gesture and love him more than words can say, I decided to just keep busy and get on with my day.

A few of the other parents have been thoughtful and kind enough to text and email me today, checking in to see how I was doing.  While I truly appreciate their consideration and thoughtfulness, it makes me feel like a giant candy-ass.  For fuck’s sake, it’s just camp!  My head knows this, so why does my heart feel like it will be ten thousand years before I see her again?

We’re a close family, and we don’t like to be separated.  I’m so thankful for that.  I’m so thankful that our family unit is so connected that when one of us is missing, we are all affected.  I grew up in a household where that wasn’t the case, so I am doubly appreciative of the bond my husband and I share with our children and with each other.  It’s priceless.

And learns how to do her ponytail!

And learns how to do her own ponytail!

So, I am now trying to banish the ugly, apocalyptic thoughts racing through my head and find the silver lining.  I’m trying to focus on the good things that will come from her week at camp.  She will learn how to manage a bit without me.  She will learn to be more independent and self-assured.  She will learn how to keep track of her own stuff.  She will learn how to pack her own damn suitcase when it’s time to come home.  And, for the love of God, if one of her friends actually manages to teach her how to do her own hair, then it will be worth every tear shed and every expensive dollar that it cost to send her there.

So, if you feel like contributing, I would love to hear your best camp story.  🙂

Wanda Says…On My Son’s Opinion of Green Poop.

shamrockParenting children is so glamorous. If I’m not pulling teeth, wiping bums, or determining the source of crusty residue left on various surfaces, then I’m a scientist/medical doctor in training attempting to help my children decipher their bodily functions and the source of any problems that arise.

I apologize for the gross topic of this post, but I had this conversation with my four year old son this morning, and for a lack of anything more interesting to write about, decided to share the poop story love with all of you.

You’re welcome, world.

This morning I heard Bryce muttering to himself in the bathroom.

Bryce:  Why is my poop green?  What makes green poop?

Me:  Is something wrong?  Do you need help?

Bryce:  Yes.  My poop is green mommy.

(I joined him in the bathroom, and yes, his poop was a shamrock green color.  WTH?)

Bryce:  Why?

Me:  I don’t know, buddy.  Maybe it has something to do with the blue icing you ate last night on the cake.  But it will be ok.  Poop changes color sometimes based on what you eat.

Bryce:  So the blue icing and the chocolate cake made green poop?!

Me:  I’m not sure.

red velvet cupakeBryce:  What does red and green make?

Me:  Probably a brownish-gray color.  Why?

Bryce:  Well, then to turn my poop brown again, I need to eat some Red Velvet cake!  Can you get some of that for me, because we need to fix this!

LOL!  Little boy problems are so fun.  I heard him talking to himself a while later saying, “I never should have eaten that chocolate cake!”   😉

 

Update:  About two hours after I posted this, my family and I were shopping at the local mall, picking up some clothes for the kids.  In the middle of the girls department at Macy’s, I look over and Bryce has his pants down around his ankles, his underwear around his knees, bare-ass, inspecting the inside of his underwear!  He was so worried about the green poop, he said, with big fat tears in his eyes and a sad look on his face, “I had to make sure the green poop didn’t get into my underwear.”   We left the store and got him a Red Velvet cupcake just to ease his worries.  🙂

Wanda Says…Ummmm, I did not order this.

Hello, world.

I’ve been out of the social media/WordPress mix for a little while for a variety of reasons.  I’ve been volunteering to help with a fundraiser at my daughter’s school and between that and the time I’ve been spending recovering from my sessions with my personal trainer, I haven’t had the time or energy to think about anything interesting to share with all of you.

Until today….

Yesterday a package arrived for my daughter.  That’s not necessarily surprising as she sometimes gets small packages from grandparents without warning.  I asked my husband if he ordered anything for her, or if his mother did, and he said he wasn’t expecting anything and hadn’t ordered anything himself.  What was interesting was that the package came from Walmart, and we rarely shop at Walmart.

So I opened it to see what was in the box and if there was a gift message on the packing slip.

Keep in mind this box came addressed to my ten year old daughter.

Here is a picture of the packing slip…

walmart packing slip

WTF?

What a random assortment of items.  Pop tarts, K-Cups, toothpaste and feminine hygiene products.  Really?

I realize this must be a shipping mistake.  How Bryn’s name and address ended up in the Walmart database is curious because we never order anything from them. I went to Walmart’s website and tried to track the order number so I could see who purchased the items, but because my email address didn’t match the order number the website wouldn’t let me in to see anything, which is a good thing as it protects the information of the person who actually did order these products.

Bryn thought it was funny and wanted to examine the contents of the box, and as she was looking through the box she said, “What are Pop Tarts?”

Did you hear that?  Do you know what that means?

In this moment, right now, I feel like a good parent.  I feel like I might have done something right.

Who knew in this moment of random, shipping mistake, box full of assorted grocery store items, that I would find validation of my parenting choices?  My chest swelled a little and I smiled.

My daughter is ten years old and she doesn’t know about Pop Tarts!  As crazy ass Charlie Sheen would say, “I am WINNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Image result for images of charlie sheen

I’m a winner too, Charlie!

 

I grew up on the most processed, non-food imaginable.  Nutrition in the 80’s and 90’s at my house was all about Hamburger Helper, Tuna Helper, Pop Tarts, Cheez-Whiz, Bagel Dogs, Twinkies, and sugar cereals.  The most fruit we ever had in our house was when my mother was making a batch of her famous Sangria.

Now that I’m the parent, I don’t feed my kids that stuff.  My kids have never tasted Cheez-Whiz and they have never had pasta out of a can.  Now, that doesn’t mean that I’m a super-freak about everything they eat.  After all, pizza is their favorite food and they act like the apocalypse is looming if we run out of Eggo pancakes.  But my kids eat real food, and I try to buy organic, whole food as much as possible.

But that is not the point of this post.  The point, my dear friends, is that Walmart has inadvertently made me feel like I might be able, at some point, to claim that ever-elusive Mother of Year award.  I am one step closer thanks to their misprinted shipping labels!

Thank you Walmart!  Thank you, and please understand that I never shop in your store due to the lack of enforceable dress code and tendency to run into ‘The People Of Walmart.’  😉

 

Wanda Says…This is how I know I’m getting old.

retro TV

I’m getting old and this is how I know it…

1.  When I was younger, I remember thinking it was very progressive when the FCC began to allow cursing on TV. I remember thinking, “What’s the big deal if someone uses a curse word on national television?  It’s not like most people haven’t heard them before.”  And then commercials began to evolve and I thought the adult humor and content infused into the marketing of different products was more humorous than dirty.  I remember one event specifically at my grandmother’s house when she tried to shield my great-grandmother from seeing a racy scene on TV, and my great-grandmother responded by saying, “It’s not like I’ve never seen boobs before, Francis.”  Fast forward twenty years, and now I’m a parent.  Thanks to all the sex and adult references on every station and every network, I’ve mastered the sport of living room gymnastics.  All parents know what this is.  It’s the sport that’s all the rage in any family living room with small children.  It’s the act of diving, jumping, tumbling, rolling, running, or hurdling furniture, small people or pets in order to get to the remote on time to either hit the mute button or change the channel when you realize that what’s happening on the television is not appropriate for your child to hear, see or imitate. (And I’d like to thank every network that showed the new SI Swimsuit cover and all the 50 Shades of Grey trailers for the extra gymnastics practice this week.  I really enjoyed trying to field my ten year old daughter’s questions about why that girl was being blindfolded, and why that other girl was practically bearing her private girly parts on the cover of a magazine.  Thanks for that).  I’ve become that crotchety old person who complains that commercials are filled with unnecessary sexual references and that there isn’t enough quality family television suitable for my kids to watch during prime time, and that just blows.

2.  When I see a pack of teenagers walking down my street and they stop to loiter in front of my house, I want to tell them to get off my lawn.  I have a nice lawn with nice bushes and flowers, and I don’t want them to litter in my yard or fuck up my grass.  Get off my lawn you lazy hooligans!  (I can’t believe I care about this).

3.  It’s difficult for me to stay up past 10pm, even on a weekend.  I force myself to stay up on weekends because it’s ridiculous and I refuse to go to bed at nine o’clock on a Saturday.  If my husband and I are out with friends or having a few drinks, I seem to be more energized and can rally to the occasion, but as soon as the action’s over my body goes into complete shut down mode.  I need my sleep like my grandmother needs to watch the Wheel of Fortune every night, or as she likes to call it, “The Wheel.”

4.  If I have more than three alcoholic drinks in one evening it takes me a week to recover.  Seriously.  A week.  Who’s got time for that shit?  I can’t feel like death for a week.  So when I do drink wine or other alcoholic beverages, I try and keep it under three drinks and I have to drink a liter of water in between.  Otherwise my skin is dehydrated and wrinkly and I get headaches that feel like they last a thousand years.  I long for the days in college when I had the energy and stamina to go out five nights a week, stayed out until 2am and was still able to make it to an 8am class.  I don’t necessarily want to engage in those activities, I just wish I still had that kind of energy.

These will make your toes feel like they're being cut off with a butter knife.

These will make your toes feel like they’re being cut off with a butter knife.

5.  I now choose function over fashion, every day.  Is it comfortable?  Stretchy?  Will those shoes make my feet hurt if I walk more than ten feet in them?  I live in yoga pants and t-shirts.  I’m with kids all day and no one gives a shit what I look like. And the last time I made an effort to wear super cute high-heeled boots to a party, I ended up losing a toenail and needing first aid by the end of the night.  My poor husband had to practically carry me to the car, and it took me six months to regrow that toenail.  When I was 30, I would have toughed it out and claimed, “beauty is pain!”  But now, I’m too old for that shit.  Give me blue jeans and tennis shoes, any day.  (I do get dressed up and fancy for dates with my man, but that’s different than my 6am to 10pm work-as-a-stay-at-home-mom dress code, and I always wear comfortable shoes).

I prefer these.

I prefer these.

6.  The music I love and came of age on is now only played on the oldies stations.  I remember being a kid and being mortified when my parents listened to ‘their music.’  I can recall my dad rocking out to the 50’s and 60’s and thinking he was the oldest man in the world.  My mom listened to Neil Diamond, Helen Reddy, James Taylor and Barry Manilow.  Now, I love all four of these artists, and I am a Fanilow. The first concert I ever went to was Barry Manilow and I was eight years old.  I will never forget those palm trees coming out of the stage when he sang Copacabana.  I loved him, and still do.  However, when I was a teenager, I remember thinking my parents were so uncool because they didn’t understand MY music.  They couldn’t understand how important Aerosmith was to me, or Foreigner.  Journey, AC/DC, Steve Miller Band, ZZ Top, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the soundtracks to both Grease 1 and 2,  and eventually Madonna and Guns N Roses.  And then I went through my New Kids On The Block stage (don’t judge me), and eventually it was all about Grunge.  Nirvana, Bush, Alanis Morissette, the Stone Temple Pilots and Smashing Pumpkins.  My mother would shake her head at me and tell me to turn that crap down.  And now, I find myself listening to the popular music of today and thinking, “How does anyone listen to this shit?!”

7.  According to my husband, my hearing is going.  When I ask Dan a question, if he answers by saying, “No” all I hear is, “Yeah.”  I rarely ask him to repeat himself.

8.  New appliances excite me.  You know you’re old when you get excited over buying a new dishwasher, power washer, or coffee maker.  I got a new Dyson vacuum cleaner for Christmas and I felt like I won the lottery.

domestic man9.  I get turned on watching my husband do chores.  Man flesh does nothing for me.  Pictures of hot guys bearing their chests and showcasing a six-pack leaves me feeling…meh.  But watching my husband do dishes, laundry, rescue wayward animals,  and play at the park with our kids is the equivalent of old people porn.  Confident, successful, and happily domesticated men are sexy.  Period.

10.  When my daughter asks me, “Mom, how old were you when you got your first cell phone?”  LOL!  She’s mad at me because I won’t let her have a cell phone until she’s 13.  She has classmates who have them now and she feels left out.  In my opinion, fifth graders don’t need cell phones.  So when I told her I was 25 when I had my first cell phone, it was a regular phone, there was no app for that, it was the size of a regular cordless house phone, and I kept it in my glove box and used it only for emergencies because it cost like, fifty dollars per minute, she looked at me like I smoked crack.  And she learned about crack in school, so it was a nasty look.  Also, I seem to repel technology, and watching my kids run circles around me with new devices, games and programs makes me feel like my grandmother must have felt when I showed her how to use a cassette tape deck on my new boom box when I was in high school.

So, now that we’ve established the undeniable fact that I am turning into a crabby, appliance loving, no sexy shoe wearing, chase the hooligans off my lawn kind of spinster, what makes you feel old?

Wanda Says…No Bandits!

kid walking to schoolMy daughter Bryn is ten years old and in the fifth grade.  We live one block from her school.  At the beginning of the school year she begged me to let her walk to school by herself.  She had a convincing argument.  She said, “It’s only a block, mom, and I’m old enough to walk a block by myself.” (To be read with the required level of pre-teen sarcasm and eye rolling).

She’s right, of course.  When I was her age we played outside every day after school, running around the neighborhood, riding our bikes everywhere.  As long as we were home by the time the street lights came on, our mom wouldn’t stand in the yard shouting our names until we came running.  She is old enough to walk a block, and farther, by herself.

But life today isn’t the same as when I was her age.  The dangers are real, and I do not trust the general population with the safety of my children. I think most people are genuinely caring and look out for kids in their neighborhoods, but it’s the person late for work that accelerates too quickly down their driveway without watching for school age kids on the sidewalk, and the child predators who look like nice people just wanting to stop and chat for a few seconds that scare the shit out of me.  I feel bad that she isn’t allowed to run the neighborhood like I did at her age, but none of her friends are allowed to do that either.  All of her friend’s parents are just as cautious as I am.

But she’s ten, and she is responsible and knows how to cross a street, watch for traffic, and not talk to strangers.  I can’t choose to hold her back from something that is developmentally appropriate and allows her to grow because it scares me.  So the least I can do to allow her some measure of independence is to let her walk to school by herself.  She loves it.  She feels like such a big girl, and I love seeing that look of satisfaction on her face when she walks in the door after school.

But I hate it.  I hate not being there to watch over and protect her for the four minutes it takes her to walk one block.

I silently stress out every morning when we say good-bye at the front door.  I watch her walk down the driveway, and I don’t stop watching until she rounds the corner and is out of my line of sight.  And then I surreptitiously keep my eye on the clock.  I know that as long as the school doesn’t call here by 9am that she made it safely.  I start watching the clock again at 2:30pm. She’s usually home by 2:40pm, and then I take a deep breath and relax.

This is what I look like when I'm protecting my kids.  For real.

This is what I look like when I’m protecting my kids. For real.

I know this sounds obsessive and crazy.  Especially to a younger person who has never had kids.  But having children changes you.  Having children brings out your protective instincts in a way nothing else can.  I became the mother bear.  I am that dangerous female Grizzly that will rip your throat out if you even think about physically harming one of my children.  And I’m not alone.  Thankfully, I’m in good company with all the other Grizzly mothers at Bryn’s school.  We all agree that allowing our children to walk to school at a certain age is a necessary risk to help them mature, grow and learn to be responsible for themselves and recognize potentially dangerous situations and how to handle them.   They need to know how to apply and use all the advice we’ve given them. “Look both ways before you cross the street, don’t talk to strangers, be aware of who’s around you and if someone approaches you and tries to get you to go with them, you drop your backpack, scream for help and run like hell is chasing you.”  Well, I didn’t give her that last bit of advice in exactly those words, but she got the message.

No Bandits!

So, I let her walk to school.  The first few weeks were the hardest for me.  About three weeks in I was sort of grilling her at the dinner table, trying to be nonchalant and casual about it.  I didn’t want to be up in her face with overly detailed questions, but I wanted to know how it was going.  I was obsessing, and I guess I wasn’t as subtle as I’d hoped because she looked at me and said, “It’s good, mom.  There’s no bandits!”  As she said this, she winked at me in a jaunty way and made finger guns.  LOL!

In that moment she made me laugh out loud with her cheeky sense of humor, eased my fears and reassured me that she truly is a big girl, which broke my heart a little too.  Now every morning when she leaves for school and kisses all of us good-bye, we all say, “No Bandits!”   🙂

Wanda Says…Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas world!!!!!!

This is the letter my kids left for Santa last night, along with his cookies and carrots for the reindeer.

I love how she waited until 8pm on Christmas Eve to write a letter to Santa with requests for specific items.  (Insert eye roll here).

And this was the conversation between my husband and me after the kids went to bed….

GrinchMe: Dan, eat those cookies the kids left for Santa. You have to eat all of them. I will eat the carrots for the reindeer.
Dan: Why do you get the carrots?
Me: Because I’ve had enough sweets today. I feel like the Grinch, except instead of my heart, my ass has grown three sizes today.

Anyway, our family is enjoying a wonderful Christmas so far.  Everyone slept in this morning so I got to enjoy my coffee in peace and quiet while listening to Christmas music with the dog.  It was heaven.  The kids woke up and loved opening their gifts.  They were pretty excited despite not receiving the items detailed on the letter above.

Now that the morning flurry of activity is over, I’m thinking of my loved ones.  I am thankful for the wonderful, and sometimes challenging people that I call family and friends.  Something happened yesterday that really effected me in an emotional way, and that got me thinking about the meaning of Christmas and what this holiday means to me.

I love Christmas….not for the presents, parties or any of the commercial hype.  I love Christmas because it represents a season of love, hope and kindness.  It makes me sad that we need a designated time of year to remind us that that’s what life is really about.  It’s about coming together as a community, a family, or even just as friends to be a part of something that is bigger than ourselves.  It’s about giving to others, simply for the joy of it, without expectations of reciprocity.  And in this day and age where selfies make up the bulk of a person’s personal photos, people spend more time with their smart phones than they do with other people, and attitudes of self-entitlement rule the world, I think that’s important to remember.  Life is bigger than just you or me.  Life is about all of us, and we all have to contribute something and interact with each other to make it wonderful and fulfilling.

I don’t talk about this a lot because I feel my spiritual relationship with God is private.  But I am willing to share this because it’s Christmas, and maybe it will help someone else the way it has helped me.  A couple of years ago I was praying.  I was experiencing a lot of depression at the time and I just needed some help, some guidance.  So I was praying to God and I asked him, “What is my purpose?  What am I supposed to be doing with my life?”

And very clearly, a voice responded to me and said, “Be the light.  You need to be the light.”

Be the light…for my husband, my children, my family and friends.  Maybe even for someone I don’t know or have never met.

Merry Christmas, and I hope each and every one of you finds a way to be the light for another person.

Wanda Says…Why my husband’s gaming privileges are about to be revoked.

boy playing video gameA couple of days after my last post, On the subject of video games and prison lingo, this conversation took place with Bryce about another video game.

Bryce:  Mommy, will you watch me play this game?  It’s pretty cool.

Me:  Sure, I can watch for a few minutes.

Bryce:  Let me show you the characters first.

He starts flipping through these pages of characters on the game.  The graphics of this game are also cartoons, but I realized right away that it’s more of an adult cartoon style.  At least the detailed pictures were.  When the game is in play the characters all compress down into innocuous looking little people and they appear child-like.  But when you peruse the actual game roster the characters are all sexy fantasy creatures…who are well endowed and wearing very little clothing.  I saw picture after picture of female characters with their breasts hanging out and wearing small bikini style costumes to match their persona.  I was shocked, but Bryce didn’t seem to notice how exposed these characters were and the conversation continued…

Me:  I’m surprised daddy let you pick this game.

Bryce:  Why?  It’s fun.

He then shows me a picture of an exceptionally racy looking character and I almost choked on my tongue.

Me:  Who is that character?

Bryce:  She’s a Succubus.

Me:  For fuck’s sake!  (said quietly to myself so Bryce wouldn’t hear)

When I mentioned this little conversation to my husband, he had the decency to look embarrassed before he started laughing his ass off.  And when I mentioned writing this post to him he said, “What’s the big deal?  It’s a mythological creature……that could be painted on the hood of a Camaro.”

I rest my case.