Category Archives: Education

Not all that glitters is marigold

I once was very mean to a marigold. It wasn’t anything personal. It was merely in the name of science.

Specifically, that name was the Fourth Grade Science Fair. The birthplace of so many childhood wrongs. Somehow I had convinced my teacher of the merit of the hypothetical question “Does Being Nice to Plants Help Them Grow?” A fantastic scientific query when you are both lazy but insecure about being lazy and want to make it kind of seem like you care while doing minimal work. 

So I planted two marigold seeds. Once I day I would sing to one and read it books and was on my best behavior. The “grandma is over for a visit and it’s her birthday” behavior. 

And to the other one I was verbally abusive in that unique, dark, unholy way that only a 10-year-old girl can be. 

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I don’t remember my official “results” or even my grade. The only conclusion I took away was the knowledge that the entirety of this one marigold’s life was having a freckled brat angrily try out new curse words on it when her mother wasn’t around. 

This lingering guilt likely explains my current awkward relationship to plants. Why I have never gardened. Why house plants stress me out. Why I prefer to let plants run wild and free in nature. I do not, under any circumstance, want to be responsible for them. As soon as they are in my care, I feel the crushing burden of having to keep them not only alive, but happy. And I don’t necessarily trust myself with the weight of this commitment considering I have seen the immoral results of my former mad scientist self. 

I killed a flower WITH WORDS.

I’m a monster. 

Which brings me to last week. There are always consequences when one tries to play God with Nature. Mine came in the form of my friend Melissa, who very sweetly and generously surprised my kids with their very own starter vegetable garden kit. Complete with 15 different seed pods. It was one of those enrichment activities I’d heard so much about but have never, ever done with my children. I wasn’t worried though. At least at first. I assumed like most other things that were good for us, my family and I would talk excitedly about it for 15 minutes and then forget about it completely. 

Oh, but then how their eyes lit up. For the first time in a long time. They were engaged. They were getting along. They were happy in a way I hadn’t seen since school shut down. 

Sigh. 

So we planted the tiny seeds in the tiny pods while the kids peppered me with one thousand questions. All of which I enthusiastically answered wrong because I know zero about gardening but still wanted to encourage their newfound passion.

“Momma! What are turnips!?”

“Sad onions!”

“How did turnips get their name!?”

“They were discovered by Joe Turnip of Indiana!”

“What do leeks taste like?”

“Like celery that is wearing a bow tie!” 

And from there things started to spin out of control. I casually asked my mom to help me find something to put all these seed pods in because she knows more about gardening than her marigold murdering daughter. Before I knew it, a large garden bed, a toolkit, adorable tiny gardening gloves and four giant bags of soil were making their way to my house. Because a Memaw who misses her grandchildren and who has an Amazon Prime account at her disposal is a dangerous creature. 

Then my husband started talking about how we’ll need a trellis for the tomato plants and maybe a tiny fence to keep out the bunnies and maybe we could plant some sunflowers too. 

And daisies, added my daughter.

And tulips, added my son. 

And, lo and behold, I am now the reluctant owner of a garden. Responsible for the health and happiness of dozens of tiny lives. Which means I’m obsessively watching them and constantly questioning if I’m over or under watering and following my husband around the house telling him about all the awful things I learned on Google today.

“Did you know some ancient religions thought plants had souls?”

“Did you know trees make cries for help? Like when they’re in danger or thirsty?”

“Did you know plants know when they’re being eaten? They send out defense mechanisms to try to stop it.”

Sigh. 

I guess the punishment fits the crime. As they say, the arc of history bends toward justice. 

But as they also say, you can lead a horticulture but you can’t make her like it. 

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In These Uncertain Times

Hey, want a fun 2020 drinking game? Take a shot every time you read an article that includes the phrase “in these uncertain times.” I’ll help you get started. 

In these uncertain times (drink!), I am constantly torn between making every effort to stay as healthy as I possibly can and saying screw all of this, the world is on the brink of disaster, let’s burn it down. It, of course, meaning my physical, mental and emotional health. 

Because on one hand, the best thing I can do, the smartest thing, the most logical, to survive and to thrive in these uncertain times (hey-oh!) is to get my body and mind in top shape. Which is why I go for daily runs every morning. It keeps my body strong but more importantly, I can escape my family for a few brief shining moments. 

And then I come back and log onto Facebook for five minutes where I’m immediately like, hey, let’s make this coffee Irish. The world is a madhouse. 

But maybe it won’t always be, I tell myself after throwing my cell phone across the room. So I make a healthy breakfast. This too shall pass, you know?

Yup, it’ll pass right up until the planet dies from global warming, I also tell myself, because sometimes I am just the worst in these uncertain times (bottoms up). Which is when my breakfast magically turns into all the leftover fried chicken from last night. 

No, no, I have to stay positive. If nothing else then for my children’s sake. They’re so young and innocent. The world can still be a beautiful place, right? A beautiful place that everyone wants to go out in and stand way too close to each other, forgoing any kind of protection, so that there is another spike in Covid-19 this fall and they cancel school and I’m still stuck with my kids all day and someone bring me a carton of cigarettes and whatever the hell that drug Molly is. 

Slow down, slow down. The key word here in these uncertain times (you’re welcome) is “uncertain.” No one knows what’s going to happen. We can make educated guesses and we can make smart decisions and we can listen to the scientists. We can keep calm and carry on. “Uncertain” doesn’t necessarily have to mean bad. I was once uncertain about my husband when I first met him. And it turns out he’s an amazing human being whom I love dearly even though he currently looks like Grizzly Adams and I haven’t seen him in three days despite the fact he is working from home because he’s working 14 hour days to help out his company in these uncertain times (hell, take two, I’ll join you). 

At least this is a way to slow down. Smell the roses. Take walks and have picnics with my family. Although all this isolation is clearly having a negative effect on my 3-year-old who is full-on turning into Jack from “The Shining.” All family and no friends makes Mae a dull girl. She’s named a toy knife she got in a kitchen set last Christmas “Stabby” and has started carrying it on her at all times. She’s definitely going to murder us. Or need years of therapy. Or both. 

So, you know what? Carpe diem, baby. Which is a fancy way of saying I’ve never tried cocaine but I think I might like it. And if there ever was a time for a 38-year-old mom to try it, 2020 would be it, yeah? 

Except no. Right? Because the world is not ending. Things are bad, sure, but nothing we can’t bounce back from. Also I don’t even know where to get cocaine. And according to 80’s movies you have to snuff it up your nose and that sounds horrid.

Maybe I’ll just take a depression nap. That lasts for five days. 

Hey, remember back when we were in certain times, you know, when our biggest worry was just nuclear war and vast corruption and rampant racism and sexism? It’s great that those are still there too underneath all the fun new 2020 stuff. 

Sigh. In these uncertain times. 

The point is, none of us know the future. But it does look bleak currently. But throughout history, bleak is when we humans shine the hardest. But you never know. But we are nothing without hope. But we are on the brink of destruction. But I want to see my great grandchildren and have them call me Gam Gam 

So, in these uncertain times, I salute you. All of us. We’ll get through this together. Because there is no other choice. Together or not at all. 

In these uncertain times. In these uncertain times. In these uncertain times. 

Cheers. 

How I Spent My Spring Quarantine

 

How I Spent My Spring Quarantine

By Aprill Brandon

During my spring quarantine, my family and I went to a lot of places. It was neat. My favorite place was the back porch. We blew bubbles. We drew lots and lots of chalk drawings too. We ate snacks out there. There were a lot of snacks. Doritos were my favorite. I got to eat a whole bag all by myself! The kids drank lots of root beer. The parents were allowed to drink wine whenever they wanted no matter what time it was because there are no rules anymore. 

We also traveled to the front yard. We blew bubbles and did more chalk drawings. I drew a naughty stick figure on the sidewalk but my husband covered it up. He is lame sometimes. I drank wine from a coffee mug because more people can see us in the front yard. One day we saw our neighbor, Shanna. All four of us started excitedly shouting at her at the same time. We hadn’t seen many people since March. She looked scared. 

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After that we tried playing soccer in our yard. But then we remembered that none of us like soccer because it is stupid. 

We also did a lot of cool things inside. We learned to play the card games “Go Fish” and “War.” It was fun. Then my children started fighting and calling each other cheaters. Which was so dumb. I was the one cheating. My husband says that is wrong. He is so lame. 

My kids also learned how to climb everything inside the house. I worried a lot that they would get hurt. They told me they would not get hurt. I was tired so I said ok.  

I hung out in the attic a lot. I told my family I was “writing” in my makeshift office. But really I was watching “Stranger Things” and reading Stephen King books. I ate a lot of snacks up there.

Sometimes we would get bored during quarantine. One time, when we were bored, we played Twister. I heard something in my knee go pop! Now it hurts to walk up stairs. My husband says I need to be careful because I am 38. He’s so lame. I’m not going to let him borrow the roller skates I ordered off Amazon when I was drunk even if he asks really, really nicely. 

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Another time I was bored I cut my own bangs. Everyone said I shouldn’t. But I did. My face looks crooked now. My friend Cara D. said she liked them though. 

One time we were so bored I let the kids do finger painting. It made a huge mess. The kids were happy but I was sad. They did not help clean up at all. My son’s teacher told me my feelings were valid. She is a nice lady. 

I think our dog is bored too. One day he pooped in the middle of the living room. It was gross. Then he did it again the next day. I think he wants us all out of his house. Probably because we are loud and won’t share our Doritos with him. 

We watched so many movies during spring quarantine. We also fought over which movies to watch a lot. I usually won because I am the bossiest. 

We also got to eat in the living room in front of the TV a lot, which was super neat. We ate a lot of cool things, like pizza topped with french fries and mozzarella sticks, and pizza that had barbecued chicken on it. If I could I would eat pizza for every meal. It is my favorite food. My husband says we have to feed the kids fruit occasionally. I wish he wasn’t so lame sometimes. 

Things are very different now but some things are ok. My husband wears his robe to work every day. It makes him happy. Although sometimes he yells the Big Curse Words at the computer. 

I wear my pajamas every day too. So do the kids. We also yell the Big Curse Words at each other but no one hears us so it is ok. I love my family. Especially after drinking wine and eating snacks. 

In conclusion, I had a great time on my spring quarantine. But I would not want to do it again. Except the pizza part. 

The End. 

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It’s been a mother of a year

Hey, you know how every year us mothers significantly lower our expectations when it comes to Mother’s Day? How every year you all just skate by on your adorableness, doing the bare minimum? It’s only Mom, afterall. She’s so grateful for anything and everything. Her love is completely unconditional. 

Well, not this year, you filthy urchins. There are now conditions. 

Oh sure, when you were born we played the saintly martyr when you kept us up all night, every night. We faced the fact you wouldn’t let us eat a single hot meal for an entire year with gentle stoicism. And we showed incredible grace and restraint by not throwing you out the window the first time you screamed “I HATE YOU” into our faces. 

We did all that because we love you. And you’re amazing. And we’d die for you. 

But this is 2020, you little wretches. We are done being humble and doting and noble. There is no more “oh, it’s enough of a gift just to be your mom.” It’s not. Not even close. We have spent two months stuck inside this house with you. Two VERY LONG months. With no sleepovers at Memaw’s house, no daycares or schools, no playdates, no library storytime, no playgrounds to give us even one tiny bittersweet gasp of freedom. There is only the constant drowning in your endless waves of needs and demands in a house that is growing more ramshackled by the day. 

Time to step it up, you bitty hellions.  

First things first, do not try to pass yourself off as charmingly incompetent and present us with burnt toast and water mixed with coffee grounds for breakfast. Here’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child. Careful, it’s heavy. Now start studying. That hollandaise sauce better make us cry tears of joy. 

Speaking of studying, your report card is one big lie. You are far from a delight in class. Which is why the card you give us this year better contain a heartfelt three page letter about how friggin’ gorgeous and phenomenal we are, which you will hand deliver to us on a silver tray that also contains a Bloody Mary. 

While we are on the subject of food and drink, you always want to be fed. Note we did not say “want to eat.” Note we did not say “always hungry.” No, you want to be fed. You want us to make you something. 

Well, guess what we want? 

A swimming pool. 

Start digging. 

And no, we will not watch you dig. A full one third of our lives is now devoted to “hey, mom watch this!” and then watching this. It doesn’t matter if we’re cooking, or if we’re showering, or if we’re on fire. We must watch. We must watch and then watch again and again, every time acting just as delighted as the first time you jumped off the couch and onto the couch cushion. 

Which is why we’re gonna need a life-sized chocolate sculpture of ourselves. 

Then there is the issue of the farts. We have smelled all your farts. All of them. On a constant rotating basis. There is just a constant low hanging miasma of fart essence wherever we go in this house because there is nowhere else for you to fart. So there’s tiny baby farts and gross boy farts and gigantic dad farts and ancient unholy dog farts, all mingling together and creating horrifying new scents. 

Buy us our own island. 

Oh, you can’t afford to buy us our own island? Well, we are the sounding board for every single thought that crosses everyone’s mind. We don’t get to have our own thoughts anymore because we’re too busy listening to all of yours. So you best find someone to bankroll this entire operation. No one’s cuteness is getting them out of this. We are on Week Eight of this crap. Ain’t no one cute around here anymore. 

We moms have not only kept this household going in a global pandemic, but, more importantly, have kept everyone from killing each other. We are freaking warrior goddesses. 

BUY US AN ARMORED UNICORN TO RIDE ON. 

So, in conclusion, we love you all so much. More than life itself. You are the best thing to ever happen to us. Don’t mess this up or we’re setting your room on fire. 

 

St. Momma’s Academy for Wayward Children

Greetings and salutations new students! I am pleased to welcome you as the inaugural class of St. Momma’s Academy For Wayward Children. I’m looking forward to a most maddening semester with all of your beautiful, perfect faces.  

Just a few details and tidbits to go over before I hand out the MAE, I SAID STOP LICKING YOUR BROTHER syllabus. Firstly, we have a unique schedule here at the academy. Classes start promptly at Whenever Momma Has The Energy and ends exactly at Momma Is About To Use The Big Curse Words. 

Breakfast, lunch and dinner will all be served whenever I get around to it and the menu will always be macaroni and cheese because I have given up already and so help me if you keep rolling your eyes at me, Riker, I will make you write a 1,000 word essay on how pretty I am. Now, at St. Momma’s Academy, you are allowed to go to the bathroom whenever you need, however, this does include the caveat that you cannot go at exactly the same time as Momma. 

Alright, well, once I pass out these syllabuses (syllabi?) I feel we have put in a good day’s work for today already and I’ll see you all tomorrow. Now take this packet and go away. Farther. No, farther. FARTHER. 

Music 

Introduction to the Quiet Game

This semester we will explore why silence is sometimes just as important as musical instruments. 

Art 

Stick Figure Technique and Design

I can only teach what I know, tiny scholars. 

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Science

ARE WE ALL GOING TO DIE!?: An Exploration of Modern Pandemics

This course will explain all the scary things you are hearing on the news and will mostly consist of reassurances that mommy and daddy and your grandparents and everyone you know and love will most likely not die any time soon. 

Math 

Fantastic Fractions

We’re just making a crap ton of cookies and I’ll let you guys hold the measuring cups and hope you learn fractions via osmosis. 

Physical Education

The FUNdamentals of Squirrel Chasing

First kid to catch one wins $20 and a cookie. GO! 

Reading

Accio Phonics!

We will be reading all the Harry Potter books together. No! Stop whining. I said, WE WILL BE READING ALL THE HARRY POTTER BOOKS TOGETHER. 

Home Economics

Advanced Beverage Science

The morning class will focus on how to operate the coffee maker while the afternoon class will learn basic cocktail recipes. Lab work will be evaluated daily. 

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Writing Economics

Exposure Don’t Pay The Bills

This intensive course will explore why Momma makes little to no money as a writer. Extra credit given to any student who offers hugs when the professor inevitably breaks down in tears of rage. 

History 

The ‘90’s Were A Hell Of A Time, Kids. 

We’re just going to look through Momma’s old photo albums while I drink whiskey and you guys drink apple juice in fancy glasses. 

Media Studies

History of 1980’s Cinema

This mandatory elective will be M-F afternoons until possibly bedtime. Homework assignments include multiple viewings of “The Goonies,” “The Princess Bride,” “Labyrinth,” “The Dark Crystal” and “Willow,” among others. Any complaining results in automatic failure.  

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Quarantine Letters from the Home Front

March 12, 2020

My Dearest Husband, 

It feels like yesterday I held you in my arms, only for us to be ripped apart by this cursed virus that is sweeping across the country. What I wouldn’t give to see your face again. Alas, I know you must do your duty, though it is a most difficult one, and figure out how to turn our diminutive bedroom into a viable home office. 

Though only a door separates us, it may as well be an ocean. For you are a world away, valiantly battling the Zoom app with its broken video link and internally struggling with the weighty decision of whether you care if your boss sees you in your pajamas, whilst I stay on this side, taking care of hearth and home in my yoga pants. We are walking an unknown road together yet apart, my love. But never doubt where my heart lies. 

The children send you their deepest affection and this drawing of a pirate ninja unicorn. 

With All My Love, 

Your Devoted Wife

 

March 13, 2020

My Darling Husband, 

I thought perhaps I saw a glimpse of your unshaven face shuffling around in your robe early this morn and my heart leapt at the sight of it. But by the time I called out, this specter had already refilled his coffee mug and disappeared back into the murky depths of the bedroom. Oh, my beloved, when will the world return to normal? I fear we will not come out of this as the same people we once were. 

To distract myself, I am helping our eldest learn to read. His teacher has been most accommodating, sending numerous worksheets to be printed out at home and link after link after link of educational things we ought to be doing. I admit it is most overwhelming but I find courage within myself by imagining how burdensome it is for families across this nation of ours and knowing I must do my part as well. 

Eternally Yours,

Your Faithful Bride

 

March 16, 2020

Dearest Love, 

I am trying, somewhat in vain, to remember how hard all this must be on our children. The world has gone mad and if their mother cannot make much sense of it, what chance have their young minds?

Yet, I still do not feel that is a reasonable excuse to steal all my lipsticks and paint the dog in various vibrant and long-lasting hues. Oh yes, that is indeed what your children just did. The little one also blew a raspberry in my face when I divulged to her that there would be no cookies for breakfast. 

Well, as you can imagine, it took everything I had to spare any and all rods. But as it says in the scriptures, children are a gift and a reward. Although if I do recall correctly, Jesus never had any children of his own and God stopped after one. 

I feel my delicate constitution cannot take much more of this, dearest. Which is why I drank all your beer. 

Love,

Your Temporarily Jovial Spouse

 

March 17, 2020

Dear Husband, 

As I write this, it is late morning. A dreary, rainy morning sure to turn into a dreary, rainy afternoon. Already the children have broken a chair and the hound has vomited on the rug before deciding to poop in the only room that has carpet. ‘Tis not quite the auspicious day I was hoping it would be. 

But I strive to take heart in the small things, such as it being the Day of Saint Patrick. I felt it only appropriate to participate in the festivities, if but alone. And early. 

Relatedly, we are out of wine. Also the vodka from the freezer is gone. 

P.S. Did you eat my leftovers? They were clearly labeled with my name, darling. If you wanted eggrolls, you should have ordered some for yourself when I asked what you wanted from Golden Dragon yesterday. 

Signed,

Your Hangry Wife

 

March 18, 2020

Husband,

Supplies are low and morale is flagging. I had to squash a coup d’etat when word got out that there were no more fish sticks. I know it is a fraught journey to the grocery store in these awful and uncertain times but seeing as how I am hungover (you know my delicate constitution) I feel it is essential that you go. 

I will miss you, oh husband of mine, as you embark on this treacherous voyage. But how lucky am I to have such a considerate partner who leaves behind dirty socks all over the house as a constant reminder of his presence in our life during these troublesome days. 

Regards,

Wife

 

March 20, 2020

To Whom It May Concern,

I’m going for a walk. I threw an entire box of Cheerios on the floor so the urchins should be occupied for awhile. I am uncertain of when I shall return. 

P.S. The children set the kitchen on fire.

 

Good thing I’m not one of those sentimental moms

I vowed long before I ever had children that I would never be one of those overly sentimental mothers. You know the kind. The ones that make keepsakes out of their children’s teeth and first baby curls, like some sort of socially acceptable child body part hoarder. The ones who ugly cry at their kid’s preschool graduation ceremony (like that’s actually a thing, an actual important event). The ones who “ohh” and “ahh” and frame little junior’s drawing of a green horse that looks, let’s be honest, like a terminally ill Jabba the Hutt.

But not me. Nope. I mean, come on. The whole POINT of having children is to raise them and then get rid of them. To turn them into fully functioning adults who can deal with their own boogers and climb off the couch in a manner that doesn’t resemble a skydiving incident gone horribly wrong. Yet these weepy parents want to keep their kids in some sort of infantile limbo, nostalgic for the days when their precious babies hollered from the bathroom “mom, come wipe my butt!”

Pfft. Pathetic.

And then…

And THEN…

You knew there was an “and then” coming, didn’t you? Of course you did. You’re not an idiot like I am.

And then I had children. 

My son, my eldest, needed a haircut. His first. Too many “stop chewing on your hair” reprimands and running into the wall boo-boos because his bangs were blocking 87 percent of his vision finally pushed my hand. Not that I was putting off his first haircut or anything.

That would be too sentimental.

I waited until the morning of the day he was going to have his pictures taken by my photographer cousin. Not that I was waiting until the last possible moment or anything.

That would also be too sentimental.

It just happened to work out that way. And don’t you dare think for one second that me scheduling the hair appointment to coincide with a trip to visit family in my hometown in Ohio (800 miles from my current home in Boston) just so my high school friend would be the one to cut Riker’s hair had anything to do with sentimentality. It didn’t, ok? 

It didn’t.

It was simply because I couldn’t stand the thought of some stranger’s dirty, disgusting hands pawing through my baby’s pristine ginger curls and heartlessly chopping them off like they DIDN’T EVEN MATTER. Like they weren’t made from the most precious stuff ON EARTH.

And yes, I’m sure that the fact that I asked Samantha if she could cut me off just ONE of his curls as a keepsake might look, from the outside, like a sentimental request. But I was just being practical. In case, you know, something, god forbid, ever happened to Riker and we needed a sample of his DNA to give to a mad scientist who would then use it to create Riker’s identical clone.

And sure, then asking her to cut off another keepsake curl might seem a bit ridiculous, but hey, you never know. Something could always happen to Riker’s clone and it’s always good to have a backup-backup plan.

And ok, fine. Perhaps asking for that third curl to also be cut and gingerly wrapped up in plastic was overkill. But what if, I don’t know, a fire destroyed the first curl and then a plague of hair-eating locusts destroys the second one? What then, huh? Am I still being overly sentimental? Or just incredibly reasonable and forward-thinking?

So, plainly, as you can see, I have kept to that vow I made long ago to never be one of those overly sentimental parents. Even now with Riker about to turn 6 and my youngest preparing to go to preschool next year and the fact that I can’t remember the last time she fell asleep on my chest and that he no longer gives me a hug and a kiss before walking into his classroom and tomorrow they will both be leaving for college and they’ll never call and then move across the country from me and I’ll never see them but maybe next year, Mom, and the cat’s in the cradle and some crap about a silver spoon or something…

…Sigh…

And all of that will be just fine by me. Just fine. 

I have my shrine of baby curls, a creepy pile of preserved baby teeth and that damned ugly Jabba horse drawing to keep me company.

 

One fish, two fish, dumb confused fish

I am often out of my element. Just a perpetual fish out of water, even when technically still in the water. So when my friend Melissa asked me to help out at our kids’ school fundraiser, I couldn’t think of a place where I’d fit in less. 

For one, I am less a parent than I am just three bewildered 12-year-olds standing on each others’ shoulders in a trench coat. 

Two, I am new to the school parent game. My oldest just started kindergarten. I’m still shocked I managed to fill out the 167 pages of paperwork it took to enroll him. 

And three, school parents who have it together enough to help at a school fundraiser are on a whole other level. A somewhat intimidating level. A level that usually involves packing a snack for their kid that isn’t leftover french fries. 

So when she asked me, it was essentially like asking a fish to climb a tree with a bicycle. Or worse, asking a fish to put on pants without ketchup stains and to not curse for two hours straight. Absolutely not, I immediately thought.

She then casually yet cruelly mentioned that there would be beer at the event. 

So I said yes.   

You know, come to think of it, maybe fish out of water is the wrong terminology. Have you ever heard of imposter syndrome? Where a person constantly feels like they’re faking it? It’s like I have that. Or like I’m a confused fish with that. Five-and-half years in, and I’m still faking being a parent. Every single time I drop off and pick up my kid, I’m convinced I’ll be found out.

Any Other Parent: “Hello. How are you?”

Me: “Good. Great. Mostly because I have kids. I’m totally a parent. The hospital just handed them over to me. I didn’t have to take a test or anything.”

Any Other Parent: “OK then. Nice meeting you.”

*awkward edging away by all parties involved* 

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But there’s strength in numbers (and in craft beer alcohol content), so I bravely put on my last unstained pair of pants and walked directly behind and slightly crouched behind Melissa into that bake sale like a boss. 

Unfortunately that slinking courage lasted for all of two minutes before they put a money box in front of me.

“So, everything on the table is a dollar, except for the bracelets, which are five dollars,” the beautiful school mom without undereye bags and tangled hair affably told me. 

“Awesome. Perfect. Could you repeat that?” I replied because I am always too busy thinking about what an idiot I am to actually listen to people. 

“Absolutely. All the baked goods are a dollar. All the raffle tickets are a dollar. And the bracelets are five dollars.” 

“Yup. Got it. Thank you.”

I then turned to Melissa. 

“Did you catch any of that?”

Melissa, however, was busy being rudely competent by already tending to our first customers and figuring out the mobile credit card swiper on an iPad. 

I was about to feel super sorry for myself and steal a brownie to sad-eat in the bathroom when another impeccably put-together mom appeared and started asking me about my kids. I made a few awkward jokes at first (“my oldest is five and my back-up auxiliary kid is three”) but she seemed genuinely interested. So I kept talking. And as I kept talking, something magical happened. I relaxed. And as I relaxed, I started asking her questions about her kids. Soon we were having a full blown conversation about our kids. And then other people joined in.

And BOOM. Suddenly I was humaning with the best of them.

As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. Not because I abruptly became a fully functioning adult. But because I was surrounded by them. People who were good at making conversation. People who were warm and approachable. People who were really good at ignoring the yawns of the new school mom who suffers from insomnia and include her despite her overall vibe of “they think I’m a people, just like them!” 

But most importantly, people who love to talk about their children as much as I do. Because the one thing I never have to fake is how much I love my kids. 

And how much I want to murder them when they ask for spaghetti for dinner and then throw a tantrum at dinner because they just remembered that they hate spaghetti. 

 

 

Lisa Frank & the other loves of my life

I don’t have much proof. I’ll admit that right off the bat. But just hear me out. I’m starting to suspect that my son is not my child. 

I mean, sure, he acts just like me (NO WE’RE NOT DRAMATIC, HOW DARE YOU!) But he was born via C-section. I couldn’t see anything past that weird blue screen they put up, not even them pulling a human body out of my human body. Who knows what happened down there? And, yeah, ok, my husband claims to have witnessed it but he could be part of this whole conspiracy. So, really, who’s the crazy one here? 

Because the biggest piece of evidence is that my son (“allegedly”) starts kindergarten in a week. And he is not excited. At all. According to him, after one year of preschool, he’s all set education-wise.

“But Momma! I went to school last year, remember? I learned everything already.” 

And I know. I know what you’re thinking. Maybe he’s just scared. But that doesn’t seem to be the case either. Yesterday I sat him down and started going off on this whole heartfelt spiel about how I was terrified on my first day of kindergarten and, funny story, was actually sent to the corner on my first day of school (I was framed basically and that’s all I’ll say about it and Amy knows what she did). But he stopped me, while I was mid-monologue and teary-eyed, with a wave of his hand. 

“I’m not scared. I just don’t want to go.”

The boy isn’t even excited about getting new school supplies. SCHOOL SUPPLIES, guys. 

“Do you want to get a new backpack for this year?” I nonchalantly asked him last week.

“Nah. I’ll just use my old Paw Patrol one.”

“Well, we can buy you other things.”

“Nah.”

“But have you ever smelled a fresh notebook? Or lovingly held a new box of crayons? All sharp and unused and full of potential? Want me to buy you a Trapper Keeper?”

“What’s that?”

“The single coolest invention of all time.”

“Nah.”

WHO IS THIS CHILD? I’m not going to lie. A good 30 percent of the reason I had kids was so I’d have a legitimate reason to wander up and down the school supply aisles, creepily smelling notebook paper. But now the girl who was once too school for cool has a son who is too cool for school. It’s like a super messed up Dr. Seuss story. 

I loved school. I was that kid raising their hand going “ohohoh, pick me!” I was that kid who joined everything. T-ball, volleyball, basketball, track, one ill-advised year as a cheerleader, school plays, band, Spanish club, yearbook staff. And yes, I was probably that kid you hated and rolled your eyes at. 

Not that school was always great. It had the typical amount of suck. There was some hardcore psychological warfare going on in third grade among my clique of friends. And then again in fifth grade. And half of sixth. I spent grades four through nine in one long awkward phase. (Tenth grade I was also pretty awkward but had at least learned how to pluck my eyebrows so there were officially two). Once a boy asked me out as a joke. Twice I tripped in the cafeteria, spilling my food and dignity everywhere. And I can’t count the number of times I got busted for falling asleep in class (one, because I was asleep and two, because it was almost always in math class). 

Yet the good still outweighed the bad. And I earned a life-long love of learning. Of challenging myself. Which is what I was hoping for my own children. They don’t need to get straight A’s. Or get involved in sports. Or fake their way through Spanish well enough to become vice president of Spanish club (el gato esta en la microonda!). But I do want them to use this time to try it all, experience it all, learn it all. To discover who they are and what they can do. 

Alas, my son is not me. Nor is his younger sister. Which is something I’m trying to keep in mind as we step blindly into this new phase of their lives. I can’t make them love school. I can’t make them see with 20 years of hindsight what lies before them. 

What I can do, though, is be their cheerleader (albeit an admittedly bad and inflexible one, just like when I was in school). And I can be there for them when things get hard, and then they get easier, and then everything changes and it all gets hard again. And I can listen to them when they have a bad day, a bad teacher, a big bully. 

And most importantly, I can impart my hard-won wisdom onto them that these years are only a small window of time where they can carry around a Trapper Keeper without looking like a crazy person. 

 

I’mma let you finish this preschool graduation, but first let me say…

Ladies and gentlemen, parents and loved ones, distinguished guests and, especially, educators just white-knuckling it until you’re finally free for the summer…welcome. And thank you for that wonderful introduction. Granted, I realize no one technically introduced me since I just hopped up here and grabbed the mic, but hey, no one has full-body tackled me yet and I’m having some Big Feelings right now, so I’mma go with it.

I am truly honored to be here today. So honored, in fact, I even put on my good leggings. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Riker’s mom. That’s him. Right there. The most adorable little boy in the world. Wave hi to everyone, Riker. Oh my god, will you just look at those red curls of his? You know he had a full set of those red curls when he emerged from my womb? Even the doctor was impressed. He was so little back then…and perfect…and time went by so fast…*sob*…no, no, I’m fine *sniffle*.

Now, I’ll admit, before I had children, I thought the idea of a preschool graduation was the dumbest thing I’d ever heard. Like, congratulations on learning what a triangle is, kid. Here’s a diploma for blowing your nose correctly. But then I became a mom. And soon realized the dumbest thing I ever heard was the theme song to the children’s show “PJ Masks.”  

More importantly, however, I realized how wonderful the idea of this graduation ceremony really is. And not just so I can take 500 photos of my kid standing on a stage picking his nose. But also so I can then share all those photos on social media and shove them down the throats of people I barely know in real life.

I MEAN JUST LOOK HOW GORGEOUS HE IS.

In fact, you all look gorgeous today. With your tiny dresses and your little button-up shirts…and…oh, look at that one, she has a flower in her hair…I just can’t…*sob*...oh no, I’ll be alright, Mrs. Ferris. Sit down. No, really. I’m not done yet. I said SIT DOWN.  

I want to tell all you children how proud we are of you. You’ve come so far. Remember the first day of school? All that crying and clinging and whimpering? And you kids were pretty upset too.

Look at you now though. So much more mature. So much more independent. So many new curse words in your vocabulary (sorry, other parents, that’s…that’s mostly on me).

Even though you guys are just starting out on your life’s journey, it’s important to remember on this special day that the road to success is filled with no parking signs. And permit parking only signs. And those indecipherable signs that say you can only park here on Tuesday from 1 a.m.-5 a.m. Which reminds me, if anyone sees a 2004 red Hyundai with a gray hood being towed, please let me know. We are definitely parked illegally out front because for some reason this school has the world’s smallest parking lot.

But no matter where the road takes you, dear graduates, my advice is to follow your passion. Unless that passion is to pick your nose. Knock that crap off. RIKER! I mean it, mister! And as you prepare to enter the real world, a world where there is only one snack break and no longer two snack breaks, remember this: there will always be more snacks over the horizon. Be patient. The world is full of snacks. And should you ever find yourself in an unbearable snackless situation, look for the nearest grandparent. They will immediately find you a snack. They don’t even have to be your grandparent.

And so, in conclusion, let me just end with this quote from the inimitable Dr. Seuss: Do not hop on pop. Or mom. Seriously. Stop it. It hurts our backs.

Oh, and one more thing. I know it’s only 8:30 in the morning but the next time you guys have one of these things, maybe put in an open bar or something because some of us are having a LOT of emotions right now and a Bloody Mary or three would really help ease the…oh, and it appears my husband is now trying to pull me off the stage…hang on, honey, I’m almost done…I just…*sniffle*…you’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me, Riker…you and your little sister, who I lost track of like 20 minutes ago and…HANG ON, RYAN…and …I know you’re going to do wonderful things and…WAIT, WAIT, STOP PULLING…oh, just look at Riker’s little horrified face! I made that face with my lady parts…OK, OK, I’M LEAVING…

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