Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Weather Frog and the third child

ShallowGal's neglect of her third child is well documented. But the lack of birthday parties and the pink snowsuits pale in comparison to the horrors Eli has experienced this school year.

Eli has been denied the opportunity to be weather frog.

Every morning as the pre-K class arrives, they take a paper crayon with their name on it and stick it in a pocket with the "job" they want for that day. Choice jobs like line leader, table sprayer and obviously, weather frog, go first. The last children to arrive are stuck handing out cups and napkins.

Now this is an excellent lesson for real life. ShallowGal was dilly-dallying on the day we picked jobs and instead of being the caboose (1), she got stuck being an attorney.

So we all see where this is going, right? Even though ShallowGal has been up since 5:30am and has already seen the two older children off on their respective school buses, she is physically unable to get Eli to his school, two miles away, by 9:30am. Or 9:40.

The official story is that ShallowGal is boycotting weather frog
because it perpetuates the stereotype that frogs are bad dressers.

(Before you feel too sorry for Eli, you should really reserve your pity for my friend Linda's son Evan who is the third of four children. Evan rolls in sometime around 10. NOBODY passes out a napkin like Evan.)

So one day, ShallowGal decided to get her ass (and her ass) to school early so he could be weather frog. And any rumors that she tripped another 4 year old in the parking lot should be ignored (2) Eli was the first kid in the classroom and put his crayon in the "weather frog" slot.

ShallowGal celebrated her success as a mother by canceling the appointment with the child psychologist(3).

At 1:30, when ShallowGal picked Eli up, he pulled her into the classroom. "Come see the frog" he ordered.

The frog had shorts on his head and sneakers on his hands. "It's Naked Day!" Eli exclaimed happily.

And the teacher told ShallowGal that 9:30 was really just a suggestion, and to feel free to arrive at her convenience.

1) Can we please all take a minute to applaud the genius teacher who renamed "the last kid in line" to "caboose" and actually made it a job? Because I renamed "taking out the trash" to "sanitation engineer" and nobody's falling for it.
2) No, the rumors are true, let's just ignore them.

3) Yeah, right. Like SG would ever get around to making such an appointment for her third child. Case in point: His birthday was in February. (4) His well child visit is scheduled for the end of October.

4) I don't know off the top of my head, mid-February sometime.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Vanity Vednesday

When I run for President, and yes, I mean when, I will have one platform and one platform only. It will polarize the entire United States in a way our founding fathers never imagined. People will look back on the health care debates, abortion, even slavery, as the days that we may have had our issues but underneath it all we were all Americans with more to unite us than divide us.

When elected President, I will ban vanity license plates.

Big promises, I know. But for right now, as a Virginia resident I am shit out of luck. Or as they say in vanity-speak:

Warning: The vanity plate tool on the DMV site is sneaky addictive

Because according to some USA Today article SIXTEEN PERCENT of the plates issued by the Virginia DMV are of the vanity variety. (1)

Until the time that prisoners have been freed from this demeaning task and reassigned to picking up trash by busy highways, I will now re-dedicate Wednesday, formerly known (occasionally) as
Mostly Wordless Wednesday, to Vanity Vednesday. One seventh of the week devoted to mocking vanity license plates. This will continue until I receive a letter from the American Vanity Plate Association ordering me to cease and desist. (2) Or until I emerge victorious. Fifty-fifty, it could go either way. Well maybe 30% chance I lose interest, 35 % chance of the cease and desist and 35% chance I emerge victorious.

There is, however, a zero percent chance of you ever seeing this on my Honda

As an added bonus, most pictures will be shot with my iphone from a moving vehicle, ensuring optimum photo quality. Without further ado, because if I needed to sum up this entire post in one word, that word would be "ado," let us commence Vanity Vednesday.

I was pretty happy too when I got disbarred

1) A number so egregious that I needed to spell it out so I could bold and italize it for emphasis. 16% See how that's just not emphatic enough?
2)Except I'm pretty sure I just made them up

Monday, October 12, 2009

Shivas I sat, and some I didn't


Justin lived diagonally across the street from me. He was the oldest of three kids and had a zip line in his front yard.

Even though Justin and I were close in age, we wasn't allowed to play together very often. He had leukemia, and his parents worried about germs. Our neighborhood lacked kids, so this playmate, so close and yet so far, seemed especially tragic.

The summer after we turned eight, Justin went into remission. We built a tree house in the white pine that anchored the zip line and formed a secret club. We tried to get into the Guinness Book of World Records with the longest dandelion chain. We used the car's odometer to measure our cul-de-sac~ 1/10th of a mile (1)~ and tried to run up and down 262 times so we could say we had run a marathon. One day we decided to tie three bikes together and see if the rider in the front could pull the other two bikes. It didn't work. Justin fell off the middle bike and didn't get up. His dad came and carried him home. I never saw him again.

My mom told someone on the phone that Justin's dad, a doctor, had taken him to their country house and was giving him shots of something to keep him comfortable. I didn't even know people in Westchester needed a country house, and thought it sounded eerily similar to the time my grandmother's miniature schnauzer went to live on a farm. A few days later there was more grown-up whispering (2) so I pulled the local papers out of the recycling bin and read them all until I found the obituary.

We didn't go to the funeral or pay a Shiva call. I assumed it was because everyone blamed me.

2) Pammy Rosenblatt's mother:

Pammy was the "it" girl of our Hebrew School's 5th grade. She owned both a pair of Jordache jeans and a pair of Sassoon jeans. Her hair looked exactly like Farrah Fawcett's. She had a double canopy bed and a pool in her backyard. Her mom killed herself on my tenth birthday.

We waited until the third day to pay a Shiva call. (3) My mom brought bakery cookies. It was early spring, but it was warm and all the kids were outside playing ghost in the graveyard. Someone came running out and claimed they saw Pammy's mom in the bedroom where the coats were piled. Pammy started to cry. We left and I never got my turn to be the ghost.

3) Renee Munroe:

My mom's friend died when I was in high school. Cervical cancer. I had known her since I was six; her oldest son and I were in the same class every year from the first through twelfth grade. She used to let us sit in the way back of her Volvo station wagon when it was her turn to drive Hebrew school carpool. Without seat belts. She made jiffy pop while we played Dungeons and Dragons in her kitchen. (4) At her fortieth birthday party someone gave her black knee socks and a garter and I didn't understand the joke.

Her funeral was my first and when it was over, my parents tried to take my sister and I home instead of to the graveside. But all the cars were caravaning from the synagogue and my dad thought if we pulled out the cars behind us would get lost. I watched my mom throw three shovelfuls of dirt into the grave, while the Rabbi explained it was the greatest mitzvah you could do. Because the dead couldn't reciprocate.

We paid a shiva call every single day. On the last day, we joined the family on a walk around the block to symbolize their return to the outside world. I overheard our neighbor, a recent divorcee, ask my mom how long she thought a widower had to wait to date. I didn't understand that either, but for different reasons.

4) Harriet

Harriet was my mother-in-law's best friend for over fifty years. Little known family secret: Harriet dated my father-in-law first, but dumped him when he failed to light her cigarettes. She never got married or had children of her own, so her fridge was covered with pictures of mine. Her funeral was on an ridiculously miserable day; the kind you'd write into a script if you made a movie about a funeral. Noa brought a heart shaped helium balloon to leave at the grave site and we tied it to the back of a folding chair but the wind kept making it smack people in the head so we let it go.

Afterward we went back to Harriet's nephew's house. Most of the people there were men from the synagogue who had come to ensure there was a minyan. Most of them had never met Harriet. I helped Harriet's niece rip the labels off the packages so they wouldn't see the cookies weren't Kosher.

Those are the three shivas I sat, and the one I didn't.

1) And it did not occur to me until this very second that car odometers generally measure any short distance as a 1/10th of a mile.
2) Unlike me, who drags my kids to every deathbed and funeral I can find, my mother tried to shield me from these things. I suspect there's a happy medium. Freud would have a field day.
3) That's when casual acquaintances go, the third day. That way you only have to go once. The first and fourth day are for the closest of friends and then the second and fifth day are for semi-close friends. Hey, I don't make these rules.
4) Shut. Up. I never claimed I was cool in high school.

This post was inspired by This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper. I received my copy for free as part of the Silicon Valley Mom Book Club. All the stories are true, although names were changed, for really no good reason.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Turkey in the Straw

Turkey in the Straw
Straw straw straw
Turkey in the hay
hay hay hay
And the old folks dance with the mother-in-law
When they dance to the tune they call turkey in the straw.

Apparently these aren't the lyrics. Not even close. They're like "There's a Bathroom on the Right" wrong. But it's what the kids are singing these days around Casa de ShallowGal. (1)

After about a million rounds of this, Eli asked what a mother-in-law was. And I explained it, but apparently not very well because the next day we had the following conversation:

Eli: I got married to Carley today.
SG: I thought you got married to Tessa yesterday.
Eli: I did. I married them both.
SG: Do you need 2 wives?
Eli: No, I need two mother-in-laws.

Can you even imagine? TWO Mother-in-laws? Lord have mercy, I can barely manage the one I have.

ShallowGal stopped posting about her family when she discovered that they (2) read her blog. But this conversation with Millie assures me that she's still fair game.

Millie: Can you help me open the email on my new Mac?
SG: Sure. What program did PCSguy install?
Millie: AOL, same as before. I see my email, I just can't open it.
SG: Put the mouse over it.
Millie: I did, but there's no button on the mouse.
SG: So use the return key instead.
Millie: This computer doesn't have a return key.
SG: Really? What's on the right hand side where the return key should be?
Millie: The enter key.
The Millie stories could go on and on. Like the time that she spent the night and mentioned how nice it was to be out of the house because the smoke detector battery ran out and it had been chirping every minute for, oh, the past week or so? Maybe someone could fix it the next time they come over?

Or the time I took her to the Senior Living complex we've been looking at (3) and the shuttle driver winked at me and told me I was too young to move there, and Millie thought he said it to her, so now, no Senior Living Apartment for her.

As her daughter-in-law I apparently have nothing to offer but useless computer counsel. All good life advice comes from geriatric shuttle bus drivers.

1) Be forewarned: it's a catchy tune.
2) very occasionally. My erratic posting schedule confuses them.

3) Where for NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE they will change your smoke detector battery for you.