Category Archives: Education

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, kiddo. 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, You Prick

This intensive course will explore why Momma makes little to no money as a writer even though she works her ass off. 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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Like walking to Mordor

If my social media feed is any indication, every single child in the world had their last day of school last week.

Everyone, that is, except my son.

Who still has FOUR WEEKS LEFT TO GO.

Oh, that’s right. His last day doesn’t happen until mid-June. Because our local schools hate parents. And summer. And sanity.

Of course, being that he’s in preschool, the demands placed on both myself and my son are pretty low. So as much as I’m dying to have a very strict summer schedule of absolutely nothing, the problem isn’t that we have one more month of rigorous scholarly obligations (since pretty much our only requirements are that we’re both wearing pants when I drop him off). No, the problem is that I’m lucky enough to live in a neighborhood that is within walking distance of my son’s school. Nice, huh? Yeah, I thought so too. Back in September when I was naive and happy and and hadn’t pulled out all my hair. Back before I realized how exhausting it would be to also tote his toddler sister with us every morning and afternoon.

Have you ever had to walk anywhere with a toddler? If so, you have my deepest condolences. You are a superhero and don’t let anyone tell you any different. If not, well, what’s the best yet nerdiest way I could possibly explain it to you? It’s like…it’s like taking the journey to Mordor every single day. And at this point in the year, I’ve turned into Gollum in both looks and personality.

Or maybe that’s a bad analogy. Because those hobbits had it fairly easy. For instance, they were able to leave the house. Just like that. They only had to grab the one ring to rule them all and some snacks, and BOOM. They were on their way.

Meanwhile, our journey begins long before we even open the door. There’s the five-minute fight about why we have to brush our teeth and another ten minutes trying to solve the mystery of why there is not a single pair of matching shoes in the entire house and then, my favorite, the daily wrestling with my 2-year-old to put on a fresh Pull-Up while simultaneously arguing with her about why we should take the stroller today. (An argument I lose. Every time.)  

I bet Gandalf never had to watch in exasperation as Frodo ran around laughing maniacally with a diaper on his head.

Then, upon immediately exiting the house, I’m already being bombarded with requests for second breakfast. But a second breakfast for the world’s pickiest eater.

“Can I have a snack?”

“It’s eight o’clock in the morning.”

“BUT SNAAAAACK. I’M SOOOOO HUNGRY.”

“Fine. I think I have some ancient Teddy Grahams in my bag.”

“Which ones?”

“I don’t know. The ones shaped like Paw Patrol, I think.”

“NOOOOOO…not thoooooose!”

“They literally taste the same.”

…*bursts into tears*…

You know, I don’t remember Bilbo ever complaining that his stale bread wasn’t bear-shaped.

And then there is the pace. In the time it took a fellowship of nine people to cross all of Middle Earth, we are still within nine feet of our porch. Because while we may not be battling orcs, there are seasonal obstacles we must constantly overcome. For example, in the fall, every single leaf that has fallen off a tree must be picked up, examined and handed to me. And I must hold onto them FOR ETERNITY. In the winter, there is snow. Snow that has to be picked up, kicked at, sat in, licked and thrown. Spring brings flowers. Flowers that MUST be picked regardless of the fact that they are the prized tulips of the scary lady down the street who is definitely going to murder me if my daughter picks one more from her garden. And late spring brings out the bugs. The bugs that must be inspected. At bug level. Lying on the ground. Then picking them up and accidentally squishing them, prompting an exhaustive dialogue about what is death and where do things go when they die.

Of course, this is all only if she’s in a good mood. If she’s in a bad mood, say, because I won’t let her run out into oncoming traffic, she’ll sit down and refuse to move. And when I pick her up, she hits me in the face and kicks her shoes off.

I would gladly give up a finger to Smeagol, maybe even two, if just once, ONCE, we could make the ten minute walk to preschool in ten minutes.

Of course, the good mom in me, the one who realizes what a beautiful and fleeting moment in time childhood really is, wants to relax and just enjoy this time; to slow down on these daily walks through our beautiful town with the two people I love most in the world and let it all sink in.

But the human in me, the one who has a natural aversion to torture, is internally screaming every curse word I know and is ready to burn down the entire goddamn world because no one can be forced to move this slow and not lose their mind. Especially considering that we have to turn right back around and make the journey back. A journey back that takes so long it could also easily be stretched across three three-hour movies.

And worst of all is the knowledge that in the afternoon, we have to do the whole thing over again.

So, yeah, those hobbits had it easy. But at least I’ll always have my precious.

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Snow Day But Today

It begins with a whisper. A mere whisper of a rumor. Riding on the coattails of a rising and moaning wind. But it’s enough. Just enough to light a tiny spark of hope against the unrelenting bleakness of a never-ending winter.  

However, since nothing is in writing yet, it’s business as usual for the moment. You head up to your room, almost giddy. You haven’t felt this kind of anticipation since Christmas Eve, which feels like an entire lifetime ago. You told yourself you weren’t going to do this but the urge is just too delicious to resist. So as your head hits the pillow, you allow yourself one small maybe. Not likely, no. Slim chance and all that. But…maybe.

Then the what-ifs come quickly galloping in. What if, though? What if it actually happens? All that time, that unstructured time, stretched out before you.

…what if…

Before you know it, your eyes snap open. A brief moment of confusion in the dark and then you remember. You scramble out of the intricate tangle of blankets. You run to the window and allow yourself one furtive glance outside. A lacy wall of beautiful white battling the dark sky greets your eyes. You give your thumping heart permission for one small leap.

Maybe indeed.

It’s the only time the news is actually relevant to your life. Boring people saying boring things. But underneath them are the slow and sacred scrolling words that could change everything.

Please, PLEASE, you quietly breathe to yourself in the blackness of pre-dawn. Most days you can’t bother to wake up before the sun. But not today. The stakes are too high. You can’t risk missing a moment of this potentially epic day.

You just need a break. From the daily grind. From the expectations. From, let’s face it, life.

Sure, you’re only 8-years-old, but are you not human too?

They’re only up to the B’s. Who knew there were this many places in the world that started with the letter B? You know it will be many, many long minutes before they get to the specific words you are oh-so-desperate to see. Still, you barely allow yourself to blink.

After what feels like a lifetime, and maybe it is (you are only 8 afterall), there they are. Those beautiful, beautiful letters floating past, practically smiling at you.

YOUR SCHOOL: CANCELLED.

A scream escapes your lips and you run around the living room, arms raised above your head, releasing all that pent-up anticipation in a series of feral whoops.

A snow day. SNOW DAY! An entire day off. Just for you. An unexpected holiday gifted to you from the very weather gods themselves.

And to thank them, you promise not to waste a second of this beautiful gift.

Cut to 30 years later. You are now a parent yourself. While making dinner (that, let’s face it, no one is going to eat), you hear it again. It’s been a long time since you’ve heard it, but you could never forget the sound of that whisper. Ten inches predicted overnight. Maybe…

What if…

You need this. You need an unexpected day off to remember what’s important. To remember that life is not just one long and mindless march forward, going to the places you are supposed to go and doing the things you are supposed to do. That it isn’t just putting pants on tiny, squirming, resistant legs and hollering at them for the seventh time to brush their teeth because you are going to be LATE FOR SCHOOL. AGAIN.

You allow yourself to look out the window. Nothing yet. You sigh and stir the spaghetti.

Just one day off, you plead to the air. One day off where you aren’t required to do anything. Where you don’t have to get anyone anywhere at any certain time. Where you don’t have to try to stuff wild humans into domesticated clothes and then stuff them into a coat and hat and gloves and then stuff the entire package into the car. Please.

Suddenly your phone dings. Then pings. Then vibrates. An email. Followed by a text. Followed by a voicemail.

YOUR KID’S SCHOOL: CANCELLED.

A bit anticlimactic, sure. Not like the old days. But still, that old feeling of pure joy manages to comes through.

Thank you, weather gods. I promise not to waste a moment of this beautiful gift.

Starting with not bothering to put pants on anyone.

 

No one told me there’d be a quiz

I had big plans this winter, guys. BIG PLANS. I was finally going to give in and jump on the hygge bandwagon. That Norwegian…or is it Danish?…Swedish? practice of making everything super cozy and charming. And you know what, it doesn’t even matter the origin because I planned on practicing a super-Americanized version of it where I spend the next three months in stained thermal leggings under three dog-fur covered blankets, dutifully ignoring my children and ordering calzones from Grubhub whilst binge-watching “Elementary” on Hulu.

Oh, and, of course, a lit candle. Because the candle is the fine line that makes the whole thing cozy and charming and not a symptom of Seasonal Affective Disorder.  

But then…sigh. Then two words ruined everything.

Kindergarten. Registration.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to register a child for school. Or what is required for school registration where you live. But I barely survived getting my oldest into preschool last year because, where I live, registration requires 132 copies of random documents that you haven’t the foggiest of how to get your hands on. Oh, you mean don’t have a notarized copy of your rent agreement signed by your son’s pediatrician and your electric company? Well, ma’am, we really need those before he can attend. And also receipts from every time you bought diapers for your child. In triplicate.

Then there were the 27 forms just for emergency contacts. Everyone I know is now my son’s emergency contact. Even you. Yeah, you, reading this right now. You are an emergency contact.

And that was just preschool. The JV squad. It doesn’t even count. Kindergarten is the big leagues.

That’s the thing no one warns you about when you’re thinking about having kids. You will spend approximately 40 percent of your post-children life filling out forms. All the forms. There are so many forms. You cannot escape the forms.

Because it’s not just these endless school forms. Take my daughter’s first visit to the dentist. We walk in. We exchange smiles and chit-chat. And then they hand me a blank novella attached to a large clipboard with the friendly instruction to “fill it out.” Forty minutes and one cramped hand later, I realized I didn’t know anyone this well. Not even myself. Not to mention, the girl only had two teeth inside her head. She hadn’t even been alive long enough to warrant that many questions about her life.

My favorite is when they ask me for my kids’ social security number. Like, are you joking? Look buddy, no one knows their SSN until they go to college. It’s pretty much the only thing you do learn in college. And as for the actual physical copies, hahahahahaha…they’re probably in the back pocket of the maternity pants I was wearing when I gave birth. Which I burned in a ceremonial fire after deciding that two kids is enough and I’ll have more over my dead body.

Perhaps worst of all, though, is the oral form of the form. You know, when those well-meaning medical professionals verbally throw difficult questions right at your face, like “what is their date of birth?” I don’t know, man. You asked me too quick. I knew it thirty seconds ago. It was one of the cold months. Obama was still president. I mean, do you know how many things have happened between their birth and this present moment? You’re lucky I remembered to bring them with me.

No one ever wants to know the important information about my kids. Like that my son will refuse to eat reheated mac and cheese. And trust me, he KNOWS. You cannot hide the fact you reheated it. He is the Sherlock Holmes of boxed pasta. Or that my daughter will eat hamburger but only if you call it sausage, and that when she starts acting drunk you have exactly ten minutes to get her to sleep before a tantrum erupts from her body, volcano-style.

Sigh. And that, in a not-so-tiny nutshell, is why my winter is ruined. I will now be spending these forthcoming long dark nights gathering ridiculous amounts of paperwork and signing up unsuspecting friends and family as emergency contacts in order to register my child for kindergarten.

But at least I’ll still have my lit candle. Which should make my ensuing mental breakdown much more charming and cozy.

I believe you.

I am angry.

I am tired.

I am sad.

But mostly, I am angry.

All week I’ve been glued to social media, watching how people are reacting to the sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. And realizing just how far we haven’t come.

I’ve also been watching as my female friends and family have come out with their own horrific sexual assault stories in the wake of this news cycle. And realizing just how many people quietly carry these scars in a world that refuses to believe them.

And I find myself left with nothing left to say. Nothing that hasn’t already been said. Nothing that will matter. Nothing that can make this world a place where men don’t rape women and children on a regular basis and never get punished for it.

So instead, I’m only going to write the two following things.

The first is this brief message: To all the women, men and children who have been sexually assaulted, I believe you, I love you and I am here for you if you need anything.

And the second is this list of resources should you ever want or need it:

The National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center: www.nsvrc.org

The National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-422-2253

National Teen Dating Abuse Online Helpline: www.loveisrespect.org

GLBTQ Domestic Violence Project: 1-800-832-1901, www.glbtqdvp.org

Take Back The Night Foundation: 1-866-966-9013, https://takebackthenight.org

For further resources, call RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) at 1-800-656-HOPE or go to www.rainn.org.