Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Delivery Room Etiquette

I love my sister but do I have to watch the baby be born? The honest truth is I kind of just wanted to see the sweet little new baby and not my sister in horrible pain. Honestly I don't want bleachers set up at my upcoming delivery either. So what's the protocol here? Who should be allowed and who's feelings are going to end up hurt? How did so many people get invited to this party anyway? It reminded me of high school when you invite 3 people over and they invite more people and the next thing you know you were trying to break up a gang war in your driveway.

So there we were lining the halls at my sisters delivery waiting for the pushing to be over so we could all flood in like something resembling the running of the bulls. Poor Jessica, I wondered if she was annoyed but soon realized that she was in too much pain to care about the family reunion taking place around her bed.

To avoid this kind of chaos, there must be some sort of guide as to what is appropriate at a delivery both in attendance and conduct of those invited to be present at the birth of my next child.

1. If you haven't seen IT in my adult life, neither will you see IT now. Use your imagination.

2. This is not a spectator sport. if you enjoy watching pain and suffering take a plane ride with Ray and her kids.

3. There must be no laughing, gasping, smiling, eating, giggling, moving, touching, shifting, or breathing in the room for the duration of the labor. So unless you are a statue, good luck.

4. There is a reason why it's called labor, labor = work, so unless I have ever invited you to watch me attempt an excruciating workout in the nude, count yourself out.

5.It's my party and I'll cry if I want to.... or yell.. or scream.

6. Please do not bring your children. The only children that will be allowed in the delivery room are my own which by the way you will be attending to.

7. No electronic devices will be allowed on the premises without my prior consent including: ipods, cell phones, video cameras, cameras, video games, laptops etc.

8. Flowers, gifts, remarking on the babies exceptional beauty, and foot massages are always welcome.

there is no more...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

My Personal Inferno

What you think hell is:
You're returning from a Hawaiian vacation tired, sunburned, and possibly hungover and now you're stuck on an airplane full of crying babies and toddlers kicking your seat and toys being thrown at you for 7 unending hours.

What hell actually is:
You're flying to the mainland for a vacation and you're stuck on an airplane full of tired, sunburned and hungover tourists and you have the ONLY crying baby or tantrum-throwing toddler. And everyone stares at you with their weary, blood-shot eyes like you're either the worst parent ever or the devil incarnate. And your normally docile and contented child simply will not settle down despite your 30 lb backpack full of toys, snacks, books, and candy.

If you can't tell, I'm more than a little nervous about flying with my little bundle of fury. I am truly sympathetic to all those that have to sit around me because I know first hand (and ear) how annoying the sound of a crying, whining child is. But all those profane death threats and slander on the marital status of my parents are really unhelpful to the situation at hand.

I am making a promise right now that whatever stage of life I'm in, if I hear a child throwing a doozie of a tantrum in public, the parent(s) will get nothing from me but sympathy, patience and support. Now excuse me while I pack a full Thomas train set and a six-pack of tictacs.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Name Shame

I've always felt sorry for children that have to live with the ridiculous names their parents gave them. For a while the oh-so-cute trend was to give your child a traditional name with a "creative" spelling, like my poor niece, Sydni. Then the isn't-that-sweet bandwagon was to smash together two common names creating a new hideous mutant lifeform, like Jennica, Janessa or Ambriah. Now the just-so-darling trend is to combine common syllables in "creative" ways. So take normal syllables like, tay, jay, kai, kee, mor, bree, or cam and attach it to lin, ler, non, gan, ly, or dan.

I thought the US had to be leading the world in the dumb names race. But we're not. Not by a long shot.

A New Zealand judge ordered the name of a girl in the middle of a custody battle to be changed and she would remain a ward of the court until the change was official. The offending monicker?

Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii

Oh dear.

Some other names that have been blocked are Fish and Chips, Yeah Detroit, Stallion, Twisty Poi, Keenan Got Lucy, and Sex Fruit. But unfortunately, these are still legal and belong to actual human beings, Number 16 Bus Shelter, Midnight Chardonnay, and Violence. I'll never again lament my son's preschool class roll of Morgan, Keegan, Taylin, Taylor, Jayden, Kylin, Kaylee, and Camden.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Let's Party, Hawaiian Style!

There are things that I love, really love, hate, and really hate about living in Hawaii. This one falls under the "really love" category. I absolutely love Hawaiian style graduation parties. Now, when I graduated from highschool, the only real difference I noticed was my dad added, "and pay your tuition on time" to his constant mantra of, "anything less than an A is unacceptable". When I graduated from college, I threw myself a party with hamburgers, chips, and two-liters of rootbeer and I received an alarm clock and a picture frame as gifts. I thought this was pretty standard.

Not in Hawaii.

A grad party in Hawaii requires several pick-up truck loads of food with no less than five meat-related main dishes, at least three salads containing macaroni and absolutely NO grass skirt trimming around the tables or cylindrically symmetric, tissue paper pineapple center pieces.

Families honestly spend thousands and thousands of dollars on these parties and wouldn't dream of combining, say, all the kids from one highschool or two best friends' parties. Each party is fully decked out in towering floral and balloon arrangements, center pieces that are actually large party favors containing items reflecting the interests of the grad, live bands with plenty of ukuleles, and enough food to sustain a small, third-world country for a month.

All of June and July is grad party season and I haven't cooked on a Saturday night in a long time. Last weekend we went to the party of a grad we didn't even know, but his aunties invited us so we happily went. We walked in and the happy grad kissed me on the cheek and slapped my husband on the back and it was party time. The family of the grad spends the evening, cooking, serving, cleaning, laughing loudly, asking everyone if they've gotten enough to eat, and pressing more food on them regardless of the answer.

I'm afraid I've been ruined forever. Croissant sandwiches, nut cups and chalky mints wrapped in netting will never satisfy me now.

Monday, July 21, 2008

"Like Oh my Gosh Your baby is like so cute "!

This Saturday I took my 15 year old to Plato's Closet to pick out an outfit to wear to a wholesome, good clean, no touching, church dance and I kid you not there was no less than 3 teenage pregnant girls and at least that many dragging a kid or kids around with them pawing through racks of short skirts and tube tops looking for something totally hot to wear while their kids tugged on their designer jeans and cried for candy, "yeah whatever just be quiet here's a sucker". You may wonder where I have been the last 20 or so years that would create so much astonishment in my little sheltered mind, the answer to this question is : at home teaching my daughters not to do well.. that, praying, and sweating like a pig in heat. oops don't say in heat at least not at my house. Ok I never saw Juno. I know what it is. I don't give a crap what the positive message is at the end. Cool teen gets knocked up. I don't need to know anything else. My teens begged me to see it which caused alarms to go off like crazy, which eventually eased into a dull painful suspicion, which was only eased after the teens all admitted that they really didn't want to see that movie anyway it's like so old already anyways. Any proven preventative measures? Please share. My bowels are in constant distress.

there is no


Monday, July 14, 2008

Teacher, I Have a Question.

I have an honest question for those of you with interests in public school whether it be as a teacher or current, potential, or past parent of elementary school children. There's a lot of verbage flying around about the "infamous" No Child Left Behind Act and most of it is negative. As I understand it, the NCLB Act basically makes schools accountable for the performance of their students on standardized tests and those that underperform or don't show "adequate yearly progress" are in jeapardy of losing their funding.

Most of the criticism I've heard from teachers is that the year becomes so test focused that there is little time or budget left to do anything else. They say that PE, Music and Art classes, and even field trips are being eliminated to prepare for the tests.

So my question is, what is classroom time being spent on that is so important but doesn't help students pass a test of the most basic of academic skills?

My elementary school, and beyond, experiences of standardized testing are essentially the-relaxing-week-where-we-take-a-ridiculously-easy-test. There are bubble sheets and test booklets and the teacher brings a novel to read while we work the day away. No, I'm not some kind of genius child, nor did I go to a magnet school or prep school (not until my senior year, anyway). Everyone thought it was easy. I honestly remember a question on a third grade test where we had to identify "which one is a picture of a dog who is angry?"

So where is the problem? If schools can't provide a way for students to learn these fundamental skills, why is our hard earned money going to pay for them?

As I hear people shout that NCLB is unfair, ineffective, or unnecessary, it sounds like people demanding their right to be remedial. "Don't MAKE us do well in school! Just call what we're doing GOOD!" I don't know of any other industry where the management, employees and customers alike seek all sorts of excuses for why business is bad and fight against attempts to make it better.

I saw the most pathetic thing on a "news mag" show where a highschool boy struggled to read. (that's not the pathetic part) There was a meeting with his teachers, some school administrators and his mother and they "discussed" his needs. Afterward his mother expressed her frustration that for all these meetings, her son still struggled to read. So the news mag sponsored him to go to The Sylvan Learning Center for a month after which he jumped 3 grade levels in his reading skills. For all those "action meetings" someone just needed to sit down and TEACH THE BOY TO READ! (that's the pathetic part - the school, the teachers, the parent, no one could figure out how to teach a student to read)

My humble opinion - that school needs to lose it's funding and the students given the opportunity to attend a school that actually teaches. What a waste.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Big Chief Red Face

If you ever take a Parenting 101 class, you will learn that you are a complete loser and a failure as a parent unless you are "involved". What that exactly means in the practical world can range from coaching your child's soccer team, to volunteering in your child's classroom, to arranging your child's marriage. I am intrigued/bemused/horrified by all the different forms and levels of "involvement" parents choose to have in their children's lives and the effect it has on them (the children and the parents). Trying to adjust my own "parental footprint" is like holding an egg - squeeze too hard and it cracks, hold too loosely and it falls and breaks.

Now I realize that I certainly don't have all the answers nor do I think that I'm doing everything right - but I do know when someone's gone over the edge. Such is the case with the mother of my son's Kindergarten classmate. A woman I call Big Chief Red Face.

The first time I met BCRF was on the first day of Kindergarten. The students already had their first assignment ready to turn in which was a paper flower they were supposed to put their picture on and decorate. Most of the flowers clutched in these 5-year-old's hands had colorful scrawls of marker or crayon and a few had glitter or feathers glued in place. BCRF was holding her daughter's creation held flat on her upward-turned palm like a waiter. It was a mosaic in colored rice that looked like it was patterned after a Tibetan monastery floor. When BCRF jr. tried to grab her flower to show her friend BCRF held it up out of reach saying, "no no no no no no".

Trying to be a good "involved" parent, I signed up to volunteer in the classroom about once a month. Every time I went into the classroom, whether it was to volunteer, ask the teacher something or run a paper or lunch into the classroom, BCRF was there. I went in at random enough times to say that I think she was there every day of the school year! She watched her daughter like a hawk and intervened any time she thought her daughter needed correcting, scolding, protection, direction, anything. I saw her yank her daughter out of the classroom for lectures and even timeouts.

I may not be a child development expert or even a parenting expert, but I think it's safe to say that BCRF jr. will either grow up to resent and rebel against her mother or grow up spineless and incapable, looking to her mother to do everything and choose everything for her.

There are mothers in my life that I look up to and try to pattern my own parenting principles on. Mothers that look to guide rather than control, that work with, not against their children, the ones that teach principles, not just rules. But most of all, the mothers that have found serenity in their choatic lives - that have a peaceful and centered balance about them.

And y'know what? Big Chief Red Face ain't one of them!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

"Mating" Socks

Growing up, we had a big oval wicker laundry basket with handles and it was always full of socks. The sock basket. If we needed a pair of socks we'd simply dig through the sock basket . When there was no pair in sight we were forced to wear what my Mom called clown socks. They didn't have to match. Often I would get the chore of what we called "mating" socks. This would generally consist of dumping all the socks on the livingroom floor and dividing them up into piles of like colors, "mating" as many as possble then putting the "unmated" socks back in the basket. As far as I knew every household did this.

In my early adulthood, for reasons I can't recall, the sock basket came up in a conversation and it soon became clear that not everyone grew up 'mating" socks. They looked at me as if I'd participated in some depraved sock reproductive ritual. For a moment I felt ashamed, but from what I could remember there was absolutely no reproducing going on, more of a slow methodical elopement perhaps. Our socks were quite enlightened. Color, texture and gender blind. I secretly vowed at that moment that I would never have a sock basket of my own. Twenty some years later I know of only three rogue socks in my laundry system and if thier "mates" (perhaps it's a British term) don't appear soon they're done for. My Mother can never know this, however, it would become apparent that I didn't inherit all of her legendary thrift and resourcefulness. My parents generation never called it recycleing. I vaguely remeber them using a saying that went something like this; use it up, wear it out, make it do or go without.


Saturday, July 5, 2008

Congratulations on Your Future Insanity

My dearest sister and sometime commenter on this blog, imme, has taken a big step in her life - one that she has been dreaming of and working toward for many years now. Although she has reached many goals in her life, marriage, college degree, CPA status, motherhood three times over, high powered career, having an island in her kitchen (a goal that has still eluded me) - this one has remained out of her reach until now.

I don't see what the big deal is. It doesn't take any special training or requirements. All it takes is mindless, repetitive work worthy of a factory assembly line, putting your brain in sleep mode, risking humilation every time you go in public, and enduring an emotional roller coaster ranging in extremes of joy, frustration, tenderness, hope, and utter boredom.

Yes, my sister has finally become a stay at home mom!

In my 9 year career as a SAHM I've had many intriguing experiences, including the number of phrases that have left my mouth that I never thought I would have to say. Like, "Why is there a dead bird in a jar on the counter?" or "We are NOT going to wait and see what those small, squirming things in the water will grow into."

I also have a growing list of seemingly benign items that have become off limits to my children due to their "creative" use including thread, paint, food coloring, avocados, super glue, nails, flour, and VHS tapes.

But for all my moaning and complaining of brain atrophy and lack of a stimulating environment, I remain in my current occupation, not for lack of opportunities to escape to the realm of working motherhood that I've seen many of my friends successfully navigate. Why?

I relish having my own, personalized insanity. I jealously guard it. I would never want someone else having the unique, challenging and hair raising experience of keeping my children happy and safe and providing opportunities for them to learn and develop (hopefully) into the adults I would like them to be. I would love to have more income, adults to talk to, and a chance to develop my skills and interests. But this insanity, my own personal insanity, only comes once in a lifetime. And I wouldn't trade it for anything.