Monday, October 28, 2013

Bite me, Monday

 I'm not usually one of those sorry individuals who posts those pitiful comics on Monday morning lamenting how awful it is that the dreaded first day of the work week is here and how they wish the weekend was just "one day longer." Nope, not me. Why? Because I know better than to blame the crazy-ass things that happen to me on a case of the Mondays. Because shit happens to me ALL THE FREAKIN' TIME.

Now. Before you think this is going to be another one of those whiny, tear-jerking posts describing how tough life is and how challenging my kids are and how dark and twisty I feel, think again. This time it's going to be different. Because it's going to be FUNNY.

And ya know WHY? Because if I don't start laughing about this shit I'm going to run screaming naked through the streets of this affluent little suburb I mistakenly decided to plant my non-affluent self in. And you know that NOBODY wants to see that.

It started early this morning, being woken to the startling barking of a seal down the hall. But we don't have a seal, and seals can't talk, and this seal said "Ow! Mooooom!" after every bark. One lozenge, two tablespoons of nasty cough medicine (who flavors this shit?) and a 20-minute hunt for the vaporizer that hadn't been used in years and probably did more harm than good and we were back to bed. But not really. 'Cuz this mom's awake. And you know what's on TV at 2 am? Crap. Two hours later, I'm exhausted yet have still managed to purchase P90X, the Magic Bullet and a pair of jeggings.

My 5:30 am wakeup call was met not with my loveable, friendly mutt of a dog licking my face, but with him standing there, looking pitiful. Upon further inspection of said dog, it appeared he was unable to wag his tail. That's right. My dog was wagless. Without wag. His wagger had no swagger. Not only that, he couldn't sit on the damn thing, which I found out after I told him to "sit" and he looked at me like this:

Trying to figure out what to do about a wagless dog, I pressed the button for my coffee and was met with with a pitiful drizzle. The coffee was there, man, it was THERE. I just couldn't GET IT. DAMMIT. Gulping the fourth of a cup I did manage to get to trickle out, I heard the seal move from the bed to the couch and the defiant teenage thing grunt something about waffles. Ignoring him, I ventured outside to walk Wagless the Dog.

He was happy to walk even though he couldn't wag, although peeing was a bit of a problem, what with the whole "I can't lift my tail" issue. And he wasn't sure what to do with his bad-ass self when we encountered this:

This is a great blue heron, right? In the middle of the sidewalk? Really? This has to be a new class of bad luck, like a thousand times worse than a black cat crossing your path. "A black cat is bad, man, but a dead blue heron? That blows."And honestly, it wasn't until this point that I started to think, "WOW. This day MIGHT SUCK." I was greeted by verification of this as I returned home and noticed ALL of my hosta plants sitting in areas where they don't usually sit. Now, I can be thankful hostas can sit, since my dog can't, but I was nonetheless intrigued, and discovered that something had completely uprooted every one of them and tossed them like,well, hostas.

It's probably trolls. With my luck, it's trolls.

Back inside, I pushed defiant teenage thing out the door and waited until he actually got on the bus, it pulled away and gained enough speed so I was sure he wouldn't jump off. I made arrangements for the seal to be tended to and remembered I should probably put on some appropriate clothes for work and maybe do something about my bloodshot eyes. This resulted in me being 45 minutes late for work (if my boss is reading this I totally made this part up just for effect.)

So for the record, that was my first three hours of the day, the rest of which was sprinkled with work, Nerf guns (don't ask,) work, calls to the veterinarian, work, calls to the pediatrician, work, some random tears (because I'm a WOMAN), some replanting of some wilty-looking hostas, a demonstration on how to give a seal an inhaler and some yelling at defiant teenage thing. All while being stared at by Wagless the Dog.

Mondays usually aren't any different than any other day, but this Monday? This one can BITE ME. I'm going to bed. And wait for the seal to bark.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

FYI: Fall is the new summer

Up until this year, if you asked me what my favorite season was, I'd say unequivocally, "Summer." I mean, who doesn't love summer? The kids are out of school, the days are long and hot, filled with splashy days at the pool, lunches on the patio, water gun fights, going for bike rides and playing flashlight tag.

Oh, wait. My kids aren't seven years old anymore.

Hence why, for more than the reasons stated above, my favorite season is no longer summer.

Here's the deal. Back in the day, meaning, the day when I wasn't working, summers were pretty chill. Now I'll admit, they're filled with more nostalgia and happy memories now that I can look BACK on them. At the time, I was a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) "just getting through the day." Then for a few summers, I was a SAHDMCICFAJ (Stay-at-home-divorced-mom-cuz-I-can't-find-a-job.) Not sure which was worse.

Anywho, back in the day, I was Champion Activity Director for my kids. We had a membership to the local pool, Wildlife Prairie Park and Lakeview Museum. I made sure we took advantage of all the free morning movies at the local theater and spent my afternoons making gallon after gallon of Kool-aid and filling water balloons for the neighborhood kids. We took bike rides before sunset and I saved all our peanut butter jars for firefly catching after dark. Honestly, we ate summer for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It was my favorite three months out of the whole year.

So guess what? Once your kids reach the pre-teen and teenage years, they no longer want to hang at the pool with you. And they could care less about wild animals or educational exhibits. They're too old for the free morning movies and have moved up from Kool-Aid to Gatorade. The bikes sit unridden and the fireflies run rampant, with no one to catch them.

Yeah, my kids totally buzzkilled summer. 

I'll admit, my past few summers have been pretty crappy aside from their whole growing up and wanting nothing to do with me anymore. There was the "I'm moving and getting marri......wait... no I'm not" summer, followed by the "I'm working full time and I have no one to watch my kids so they're home alone and I feel so guilty" summer, and the most recent one, "I lost my job and my mom had a brain aneurysm and I spent two months at OSF" summer.

Honestly, I hung on to summer until the bitter end. But at the end of our three month ride this past year, I suddenly realized pretty much all I did was wax nostalgic about all the things I used to do with the kids but couldn't anymore. Sure, we made a few feeble attempts to go to the pool. If they didn't have friends there, they were bored and got pretty embarrassed when their 46-year-old mom challenged them to a cannonball contest off the diving board. My older kid suddenly developed an aversion to any temperature over 80 degrees, and my once tanned, freckle-faced boy remained a pasty, winter-white all throughout the summer season.

So you can see, among other reasons, why my allegiance has turned to fall. And it's just been this year. Once the kids got back in school and the leaves started changing and I'd walk the dog in that early morning chill, I began to feel a little sense of relief. Relief that summer was over and I didn't have to keep trying to relive my glory days of Mom of the Year any longer, nor did I have to lament the fact that no matter what the season, my kids are just fine staying inside, watching an Adventure Time marathon and playing Madden 13.

Now they're back in school - in someone else's hands to an extent. My younger son is playing football for the first year, so I have practices to drive to and from and games to cheer at every Saturday. Fall gives me an excuse to take three hours on a Sunday and sit on the couch and watch my Packers play. I'd NEVER do that in the summer. Fall means it's not too hot to sit with my mom out on the porch at the skilled care facility, or take a walk around the block with her and my dog.

Fall means big, bulky sweaters to cover the extra pounds I didn't lose over the summer, and long pants to conceal legs that could use a few more squats and lunges. It means not wondering WHEN I'm going to have time to mow the lawn, or throwing out flowers that I just never got a chance to water. It's opening the windows and having my CILCO bill be under $100.

For the first time, I drive through the countryside and see combines harvesting and leaves turning and feel the temperature dropping and I don't feel sad. I feel comforted. I can't really explain why, other than I look at summer now as a season to "get through." Now I look at approaching summer with a leery eye, wondering "What's going to happen to f&*k THIS summer up?" Fall? Fall is untouched. Fall is clean. Fall is good.

Welcome, Fall. I'm not a huge fan of the season that follows you up, nor of the one that precedes you. But you? You're pretty cool.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

This post contains a lot of sex, drugs and general indecency

The other night in the car, my kids were joking back and forth. This is epic because a) my kids don’t always get along and b) my kids don’t always get along. So I was happy. Until I noticed that amidst the tomfoolery and shenanigans, the conversation was laced with verbiage like, “you suck” and “pissed off”.

Now, you can judge me two ways with this. 1) I can’t believe you let your kids get away with saying stuff like that, or 2) In this day and age, I can’t believe you even blinked an eye at this.

I don’t even know where to go with this because there is so much swirling in my head. In my perfect little family that I tried to raise, we never said things like this. If my little cherub said, “I hate broccoli,” my response was, “Now, we don’t say ‘hate.’ You DISLIKE broccoli. And really, what did broccoli ever do to you?” If the oldest called the youngest a “stupidhead” then he was immediately put in timeout and forced to apologize for wounding his brother’s spirit and potentially shattering his self-esteem with his negativespeak.

So it's come to this - "you suck," "pissed off" and a few other choice words that I can demand not be said under MY roof but that I know full well they hear commonplace every single day. Now, I know there are those parents out there who somehow, some way, manage to raise their kids to never, ever say a bad word, watch a TV show with questionable content, and generally be morally amazing. These are probably the same parents who don’t have cable. Or electricity. Or ever leave the house. I even knew of a mom who once complained to a store manager that there should be a magazine-free checkout aisle so her kids didn’t have to view the tabloid filth while going through the line. 

And guess what? As fuddy-duddy and unrealistic and prudish as it seems, I agree with her. 

I know the world evolves. I know back in the 50’s the planet had a field day with Elvis shaking his hips on national TV. I know that Dick Van Dyke and his wife had twin beds. I know if you filmed a man and a woman on a bed that one of them had to have one foot on the floor. And we as humans managed to bend our moral compasses bit by bit as time went on and the push for acceptance by the minorities became the consensus of the majority. 

Fast forward to what we are willing to accept now. And yes, I know that by railing on this I risk being dubbed a middle-aged Mrs. Grundy who yes, listened to Van Halen in high school and never thought Hot for Teacher was a bad thing. I get it. I stand guilty. BUT….

I think we’ve gotten out of hand. No. I KNOW we’ve gotten out of hand. Not only has our moral compass been bent, it’s been tied and twisted and convoluted so much it can’t even point anymore. I feel like I’ve been bullied into “being OK” with the foul language and lewd behavior that is peppered all over the media, in the schools and in the home because “that’s just the way the world is now.” We pretend to stand aghast at Miley Cyrus’s performance on the Video Music Awards (no I won't link to it), but the point is, she was allowed to do it. And we watched it. And we watched it again. And we talked about it. And we spoofed it. And we laughed at it. And it's wrong, People. It's just wrong.

I’m going to say this right now and I know I’m going to be unpopular. I don’t like The Simpsons. Or King of the Hill. Or Tosh.0. Or a host of other shows that grace the airwaves during prime time each night with content I consider questionable to my kids and blatantly immature for adults to even entertain. And here's a HUGE social risk: although Breaking Bad was a well-written show, I can’t believe the accolades and following it got due to its subject matter. Seriously. Yeah, I just said that. Why? Because kids are impressionable. And kids watched it. You can slice and dice the theme of that show any way you want it and I'll still feel the same way. Sure, kids can turn it off. But they don't. Parents can refuse to watch it. But they do. Like I said, it was a good show. Very well-written. But I can't believe we as a society have gotten to the place where this kind of stuff is OK as means of entertainment.Oh, and don't even get me STARTED on YouTube.

And you are welcome to try to tell me that I can just not allow my kids to watch it - or play it - or listen to it. I’m just as guilty for joining the majority – albeit kicking and screaming. I am JUST AS GUILTY. There’s only so long you can police your kids until they get to the ages where you just CAN’T anymore. And there’s also that fine line you walk between being the house where kids want to go and hang out and being the house that NO ONE wants to visit. I strictly forbid M-rated video games in my house. They still play them elsewhere – oh, and I’m finding “demos” sneaked into our own game systems as well.  And they’re basically outcasts with their friends because they DON’T own Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto. Really. Even their moral, church-going friends. I just don't get it. Am I the only one who cringes at the sound of someone getting blown away or lying on the floor in a drug-induced stupor? 

I don’t know why there are naked people on TV having sex. I don't know why we're so entranced with the drug culture and why we basically give kids a road map into it. Don't even get me started on the dichotomy between the "Stop Smoking" campaigns and the ones to legalize marijuana. I will listen to your argument all day and still won't see the benefit - monetarily or socially. (Let the firestorm commence.)

I don’t know why George Carlin’s Seven Words You Can't Say on Television (1972) has become nothing more than a nursery rhyme today. I don’t know why there are shows glorifying making meth and teenagers having babies and Amish people leaving their communities so they can live sin-filled lives in New York City. I don’t know why I can’t listen to the radio without flipping the dial because Bob and Tom took it “just too far” for my liking again. I don’t know why “What's up, nigga?” is now a term used to say hello to another person. That's reprehensible no matter how much it's "just a joke" or "just how kids talk these days." I don’t know why kids think it’s OK to post what they post on social media. Really, parents. LOOK AT WHAT YOUR KIDS ARE POSTING. Look at the pages they’re allowed to be fans of. WHY ARE THESE PAGES ALLOWED TO EXIST??? It’s messed up. And I don’t know how or when this became OK. And if you think your kids aren't doing it, think again. THEY ARE.

The lines have become pretty blurred (yes, I know all about Blurred Lines and I won't link to that either) between what some consider “pushing the envelope” and “offensive.” And it's not any easier given the fact that I am in the advertising and marketing industry, where we're constantly looking for ideas that will pattern interrupt day in and day out. I guess I don’t understand WHY we have to push the envelope of our morals just to capture people's attention. What redeeming social quality does any of this have? Or is it that we don't really care about social quality anymore?

At heart, I think we’ve turned into a nasty, raunchy, inappropriate society who revels in one-upping the nastiness, raunchiness and inappropriateness. I wonder if we’ve come from where we were in the 50’s with Elvis’s gyrations to where we are now, where we’re going to be 50 years from now. I don’t even want to think about it. And I'm as guilty as anyone else for propagating it, sharing it and saying it - to an extent. But not the extent that it exists, and not the extent that's becoming the culture of the children we're trying to raise.

I had the best of intentions when I had my kids. I’m not saying they’re not going to grow up to be moral, upstanding individuals – I hope to God that amidst all the unscrupulous outside influences, coupled with the mistakes I've made that somehow some goodness sunk in and they have enough of an internal morality to not get sucked in by all the degradation in the world. 

I know I failed them by giving in – by throwing my hands up and knowing that there is no way I can shelter them completely or control everything they see and do. But I do strongly believe society has also failed them by setting and allowing such bad examples of humanity and decency. I can pretend to hope that my kids will rise above, but I honestly think they're up against some pretty serious odds.

Not really what you were hoping for when you clicked on this blog title, was it?