Tuesday, February 16, 2010

it's all fun and games until someone gets lukewarm vinegar in the eye.

okay, so while i was outside and messing about with some weeds i somehow picked up this wicked little rash on my face. that was a week and a half ago. it's going away but good lord the going is SLLLLLOOOOOWWWWW. then last night i went to tuck the duke in and kiss him good night and WHAM! his rock solid head smashed right into my poor not as rock solid lip. and now i have a dark contusion to go with the rash.

i could go on, because there's more. there's always more. but i'll spare you and tell you a little story instead.

it begins with me deciding that what i needed was a little beauty 'pick me up.' something to make me feel better, beautiful in the midst of feeling decidedly not. something to put a little shine on the chrome.

it also needed to be easy and quick. so i decided on a hot oil treatment for my hair. having never done it before i reviewed some sage advice and went to it.

now, it should be said that beauty treatments and me don't go exactly hand in glove. more like fist through windshield. me being the windshield. i'm a fairly low maintenance kinda girl. i can put on the dog when i need to, but mostly what you see is what you get. all that messing about doesn't come naturally to me. so when i get into that kinda territory the results are anyone's guess. and often make for a painfully hilarious story. or, you know, just painful.

one day i'll tell you about my one and only foray into waxing. i cannot give you any more details, specific or otherwise, than that right now but i will say it.was.not.pretty. there were burns involved. and peeling. i missed work. i may or may not have re-evaluated my relationship with god. hell, i think i MET god. just thinking about it makes me nervous.

excuse me. (deep breath in...)

i need a moment. (let it out slowly...)

okay. (deep breath in...)

that's better. (you're safe now...)

anyway, so i grabbed the warmed olive oil and the industrial sized bottle of white vinegar and headed for the bathroom. please, just take that sentence at face value and let's move forward. so, i rubbed the olive oil through my hair and wrapped it in a towel. i read a magazine for the wait. so far, so good.

now. i don't take showers. i take baths. i was told to do this in the shower but the shower is all the way in the back bathroom and i don't like showers.

huh? what's that you say about foreshadowing?

so i filled up the tub and per the instructions i was supposed to 1. wash out the oil 2. rinse with water. 3. on the final rinse dump about a cup of the white vinegar on my head with the shower running overhead and then rinse THAT out. easy. oh, and make sure my eyes were closed. so yeah. easy.


the oil coming out was fine. i shampooed and rinsed that out. then for the final rinse i went for the cup of the vinegar. i was using the rinsing pitcher so i just eyeballed it and poured it in. and then dumped the pitcher over my head. and then the shrieking began.

okay, the shrieking was all in my head. good lord me shrieking in the tub would bring at least 3 boy humans and all the cats to the tub. no way. if i can cure a kidney stone with copious amounts of beer and the tub in the middle of the night and not wake a single soul then i can handle this. the tub is like my own private idaho. what happens in the tub stays in the tub and is my business alone. no witnesses.

OH! MY! GOD! did it BURN!!! i thought i had my eyes closed!! but in a split second my right eye felt like someone poured their lifetime's supply of radium in it. and i guess it was a little more than a cup of vinegar, too. a LOT MORE. and it was cold and smelly and did i mention THE BURNING!?!

so then i tried to overcompensate by filling the pitcher and rinsing my eye with warm water. which in the process brought open the other eye. and because i couldn't really see with one eye burning and all my god damned hair everywhere (OMG!!! WHY DO I HAVE SO MUCH HAIR!!!) i missed and then rinsed all the, by now lukewarm, vinegar that was on my hair right into both my eyes.


and re-cue the internal shrieking.

i don't know how but i finally got the eyes flushed and the hair rinsed. i managed to haul myself out of the tub. i managed to only mostly feel like a lab rat whose experiment had gone horribly wrong.

so now i have two red eyes, vaguely blurred vision, and hair that smells like my kitchen the night before easter.



Friday, February 12, 2010

your moment(s) of zen.

Dear Universe,

You've been fucking with me for awhile now. And this most recent chain yanking you've been doing is just lovely. Because what girl doesn't like to be attacked on her vainest level? But as you can see you haven't bested me. I'm still standing. I still get out of bed every morning. Everyone around me is still warm and fed and happy and enjoying life. You haven't won. And you won't. Though I suspect that's not what you're after. I suspect this is all about some kind of 'lesson.' Fine. I get it. I can do this.

So give me your best until you're all worn out. And you'll see I'll still be standing. Because I know a secret. Do you want to know what it is? I'm going to tell you anyway.

The secret is that you can fuck with me all you want and I will never give up because I know just how good it's going to feel when you stop. And that's good enough for me.

the girl

p.s. The other part of the secret is you need to have kick ass music around if you're gonna kick ass.

it's in this spirit i present to you this week's moment(s) of zen. kick out the kids and turn it up. and you're welcome.

(it's got a glitchy pause at the beginning. give it a few seconds.)


Tuesday, February 09, 2010

a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. step #1; get out of your chair.

a few weeks ago the duke was NOT having a very good morning. you know the kind, nothing is working and so it's easy to snap and snip at those around you.

now, when a nearly 13 year old acts like this it's easy to remind him of his age and tell him to start acting like it and not like a 3 year old.

it's easy to yell at a nearly 13 year old who acts like this. to be incredulous. to be mad. to force the behavior away. with consequences or opportunities taken away.

but i know yelling doesn't work. and whether you're nearly 13 or 3 or 38 no one likes to be yelled at. especially if you're already having a bad morning. how does that help?

so that morning a few weeks ago i was watching him rant and rave and just plain have a bad day. and i remembered that occasionally when he was a little kid he would do the same. and i didn't yell at him or try to force the behavior away with consequences or opportunities taken away. when he was little and something was 'up' with him i would re-direct. get creative. i'd 'work' at finding a solution. i wouldn't just sit at my desk and yell at him to stop.

if he had a full blown tantrum (rare, but it would happen) i wouldn't shout at him to stop or leave the room and tell him to come get me when he calmed down. i would grab a pen and a piece of paper and i would go sit next to his mad little shouty self right there on the ground and just start writing down what he said. eventually he would be curious and stop shouting and ask me what i was doing. and i would tell him that if he's that mad, mad enough to shout and freak out, then i should pay attention to what he was shouting about. and he would stop shouting and just tell me what was wrong and watch me write it down. then i would give him the paper. and then we were done.

this of course DID NOT always happen. there were times i could NOT muster it and we both had to take a break from each other. the duke was a challenging and headstrong child. and i am a silly mortal mama. one day i'll tell you about the box of popsicles i threw against the wall. not one of my finer moments. to his credit the duke just laughed at me and told me to use my words.

but i always tried, then. at least i always tried. and i can honestly say that as my children have gotten older i've gotten lazier in the 'trying' department. because sometimes it's just easier to 'make' them behave than to figure it out. to keep sitting and holler from your desk rather than get up.

but, it was time to get creative again. so i got up from my desk and i went to the art shelf and i grabbed some sparkly penguin stickers that were lying there.

then i went and sat next to the duke. and i didn't preface anything or suggest anything, i just started talking. 'when you were little, you were nervous about your first few days of preschool. so one day i grabbed a sticker and put it on your hand. just like this.'

and i took a sparkly penguin sticker off the sheet and stuck it on the back of his hand.

'and that way, you could look at it if you were feeling nervous or missed me and it would remind you that i was thinking of you. and if you were having a bad day the sticker always made you feel better when you looked at it. and as time went on you decided that we had to put the sticker somewhere else because it would come off of the back of your hand when you washed or played in the sand. so i started putting the sticker on your sweatshirt or vest and you would get a whole collection of different sparkly stickers until it was time to peel them off and wash the sweatshirt or vest. and this went on for a long time. until one day we didn't think about the sticker. but by then you loved preschool so much you didn't 'need' the sticker.'

and then i got up and went back to my desk.

and the day passed much smoother than it had started. we did school, had a walk, ate dinner, etc. just another day, uneventful.

and later on that evening, when the day was finally finished and the duke was getting ready for bed, he came to hug me good night. and right there on the back of his hand was the sparkly penguin sticker.

i don't know how to parent a teenager. any more than i 'knew' how to parent a baby or a toddler or a preschooler. but i do know i can't buy into it being some great mystery any more than any child at any age. i'm just going to do it the way i've always done it. i'm just going to figure it out as i go along.

i do know that getting up out of my chair and going to them should always be the first step. the rest will follow.

(oh. and i slipped the penguin stickers in my purse just.in.case.)


Thursday, February 04, 2010

it's all right to cry. but not to shake your money maker.

Dear Marlo Thomas,

Okay. I know I always make fun of you and your whole 'Free To Be You And Me' deal. But really, you just made it too easy. Beyond that I have a lot of reservations of how the 70s panned out in terms of the collective parenting of that decade's youth. To which, you so creatively contributed. But that's a conversation for later. Preferably with a well trained therapist.

I have to say that while looking back now I can totally appreciate your message, but at the time it just confused me as I grew older. Because I didn't want to wear a hard hat or be a cop or race motor bikes. What I wanted was to wear short skirts and high heels and big hair and dance in music videos. Where was THAT in 'Free To Be You And Me?' Because if it was there, I didn't see it. Where was *I* represented in that whole egalitarian switcharoo stew?

And Marlo, you must know that it took me a long time to understand that as a young woman it was 'okay' for me to want to do shake my money maker in music videos. You know, for lack of a better term lo these many years later. To want to do that MORE than want to wear a waist belt and do a bunch of heavy lifting. While being a slightly suspect career path in general, I had to learn that it was 'okay' that the only factory I wanted to join was the C & C Music Factory. Union involvement optional.

I am not suggesting I was irreparably damaged, but damn girl I had to dance on a whole lot of speakers to work that out of my system. Have you ever danced on a speaker, Marlo? Yeah, they aren't so sturdy some of them. But I did it. Because we all need to learn how to rise up and bust out of the shackles and the confines and labels of our youth.

All that aside, I am writing you today to let you know how the afternoon passed in my house. My oldest boybarian spent it baking banana bread in the kitchen while his younger brother painted a picture of roses in the other room. And all I could think of was you. Well, after I smugly filed away that whoever the Duke ended up with couldn't accuse me of coddling him and therefore rendering him useless around the house. Damn right, bee-yotch! You'll get your home baked banana bread and you won't have a THING to blame me for! (Note to self; teach the Duke how to do the laundry. soon.)

Okay, so yeah, after *that* then I thought of you and your 'everybody gets a trophy because you're ALL #1!!!' approach that pretty much summed up the parenting creed of the decade in which I was born and bred. Which I then quickly blocked. And instead went for thinking of your message in its purest form, and for what it's boiled down to for me. And for how I see it, and practice it.

And that is how in my house it's not 'weird' to anyone that a boy would bake or paint a 'pretty' picture. Any more than it's not 'weird' that a pregnant mother would push her own stalled car out of traffic just because there was nobody to do it 'for her,' and because nobody stopped to help. So she pushed it herself. And nobody was surprised. That life is for living and experiencing and DOING free from consideration of what sex or gender you may have been born to. And in my house everyone's free to 'be who you are, just let others be who they are, too.' Okay, so it doesn't roll off the tongue like what you came up with, but you get the picture.

So, thanks. Thanks for being the first to expose me to how the world should just work. You know, if it worked perfectly. Always. (Except for the "dancing" thing. But, in your defense, I do believe that was an interpretational difference. I mean, look at Flashdance. She did both. But she had the whole 'Pittsburgh steel town girl' thing going on. Being from a California valley town previously known for cheap jug wine just doesn't have the same cache.)

Oh, and thanks for Alan Alda. 'Free To Be You And Me' was the first exposure I had to him, and hot damn I've been in love ever since. M*A*S*H just solidified that. Wasn't that the BEST show? Sigh. I'm only sorry I don't have a third son to name Hawkeye Pierce. Right?

Be well and give my best to Phil. You know, when AND IF he gets his break from all the housework and KP duty. Kidding!! Ha ha ha! Oh, Marlo. This has been fun.


this girl