Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Science of a Clean House

I often had “conversations” with my husband about why our house is not as neat as So-and-So’s house...SO after an extensive survey I have come up with a scientific calculation of the four levels of house cleanliness and why:

House Appearance = Mom Employment/Maid Employment
Neat, Warm and Welcoming House = Mom does NOT work outside the home/ they have a weekly maid.
Neat House = Mom works outside the home /they have a weekly maid.
Warm and Welcoming House = Mom does NOT work outside the home/they have NO maid.
Messy House = Mom works outside the home /they have NO maid.

I informed my husband of my study and suggested whenever he wants to alter the fact that we both work and we don’t have a maid I can almost guarantee that our house will go from Messy to at least Warm and Welcoming in appearance. It is simple science and nothing to do with my "creative lifestyle."

Oddly—the conversations have stopped.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Increasing Troop Presence in School

Although we live in an artsy-fartsy town, the Beast ended up going to the elementary school in the non-artsy, non-liberal part of our school district due to “zoning.” I, in turn, ended up sitting in meetings with mothers who, I swear, must have been visiting from other planets.

One of the first meetings I attended was for the Girl Scout Daisy Troop. An Ubermom (blond streaked hair coiffed, fingernails manicured, SUV in parking lot) said that the girls should wear their uniforms, not just for the Girl Scout meetings, but for the entire day—because she felt there should be more of a “troop presence” in the school.
“Like a war zone?”...I queried. “Please..this whole little girls in uniforms thang goes against my pseudo-liberal mind-set” I explained to the hostile alien beings. “and besides those little Daisy smocks that they don are not going to command any true respect anyway...if that is what you are after...”

The long suffering, human troop leader moved the conversation away from military protocol to suggestions on field trips for the kindergarten girls to go on.

The pastel attired extraterrestrials chatted about going to the bagel shop where the girls could learn about making bagels or to the local karate school to learn about self-defense or to learn about blatant consumerism and other forms of normal human behavior on earth.

Feeling that the trip idea trend was heading towards Beckett-like absurdity I piped-up--”we are very close to NYC—perhaps we could take the little girls in one of your big SUVs to the Metropolitan Museum of Art or to the Natural History Museum or maybe even Carnegie Hall... “

They stared at me with their almost human, perfectly mascaraed, blank eyes for a several minutes and then turned back to one another and the Ubermom, said: “The Police Station is also interesting—they fingerprint the kids and then lock them in a cell...”

Oh the joys of public school.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Please, Thank You, Everything is Delicious

The key to success as a lazy mom is to have a polite and fun child. It does not come naturally. One does have to work at it a little...ideally when they are young, but once you have a child like that—PLAYDATES come knocking....and we all know that playdates are a mother’s lifeline.

Every mother has her tricks and I am no trick for the holiday season is to make sure that your child knows how to respond after opening a lame present.

We spent years teaching The Beast how to open a present and praise it is regardless of what it is. Socks, underwear, mittens and scarves all get the same enthusiastic response as a video game or an American Girl doll. We even had competitions when she was really little...I would wrap several pairs of socks and The Husband and The Child would try to out do one another raving about the pure joy that the pair of scratchy, wool socks will bring them...”how thoughtful, how charming, how life transforming these socks will be...thank you! Thank you!”

The other day I heard a friend whisper in his child’s ear before sending her off with me—”just remember: ‘Please, Thank You, Everything is Delicious.’”

I have always loved this child because she is smart and funny AND she was the ONLY person who ever said my cooking was "delicious," but lo and was not my food at all, but a clever parent strategy. When quizzed, the mother willing confessed--”Oh yes! That was MY mother’s directive...whenever we went to someone’s house she would say...remember: ‘Please, Thank You, Everything is Delicious!’”

Words to live by.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Find More Fairies

I started a book of New Year’s Resolutions quite a few years ago because I thought it would be funny to look back at The Beast’s resolutions. Of course, the child did not disappoint. My favorite from her first year was “find more fairies.” Not just “find fairies” but “find MORE fairies” which made me question her, in-depth, about her previous fairy finds.

The child has always been creative and, at that time, I was constantly finding little homes she had made for very small people tucked behind curtains on windowsills, nestled in bookshelves or in drawers cozily outfitted with little tiny home goods. I never thought that the child might be making these homes for little tiny people that she actually saw....

When she was even younger, she did have her make-believe friend, Sellabee--the amazing, invisible, dancing ant. I didn’t think it was too odd since I had a make-believe friend when I was little also..all be it, not unique like my daughter’s invisible, dancing ant.

Over the years The Beast’s resolutions have ranged from “Make a New Revolution” to “Daydream More” to “Grow Hair Longer” reflecting a rather non-American, non-driven outlook on life that my husband and I aspire to.

As it turns out, The Beast’s resolutions were not the funniest retrospect. Mine constant quest to get back in shape started with Year One: “Exercise Every Day “ (Pleasssse, like that was going to happen)
Year Two: “ Get back to a size 4”(had failure written all over it)
Year Three: a more vague “Get in Shape”
Year Four: “exercise more with family” (it’s not my fault they are lazy—those people never exercise)
Year Five: A more accepting resolution--”Feel better about body” (regardless of size and shape)
Funny...but in a sad way....

My husband resolutions matched his daughter’s in creativity and mine in the “doomed to failure” category, but we will not go into details.

However, hope springs eternal...I just got out the resolutions book... I am thinkin’ up some good ones for this year....I will never to give up!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mean, Mean Mommies

I am a Mean Mommy and most of my friends are Mean Mommies.

The Mean Mommies have the kids who are self-sufficient, polite when necessary and creative. Of course, what else can these kids be when their mothers are off drinking Guinness with friends rather than hovering over them with kind words of advice and praise?

Oddly enough it is the Mean Mommies who tend to have swarms of kids at their houses. Kids just LOVE Mean Mommies. They are the mommies who let them do the fun stuff. Bake a cake without adult supervision. Run through the mud and play with sticks that might poke their eyes out and climb high trees with the only warning—”if you fall and break your arm, we are not going to the hospital until I have finished my coffee.”

Of course, blood always warrants an interruption in the adult conversation, but really....any other distraction should be ignored at all costs....a fight over hurt feelings (please... we invited that little brat over here because you wanted a playdate with her, you work it out) or a request for a snack—(honestly—have these children not heard of step stools?)... If you don’t nip the annoying behavior of interrupting in the bud, you eventually become a NICE MOMMY.

The opposite of me is the Nice Mommy. The world stops for the child. “I am so sorry...could you hold that thought about your impending divorce and cancer scare while I listen to little Melissa’s thoughts about the scab on her pinky?” It is not that I do not love little Melissa and appreciate the song she made up for the scab on her finger, but really...once the kids can it not our place as parents to make them realize that although it is MOSTLY about is not ALL about them?

I have stunned into silence many a whining suburban child just by saying NO. The word is apparently not a part of their parents’ vocabulary. The child sits there dumbfounded by the fact that an adult is saying NO to them and not even giving a there has to be a reason not to want to go Chuck E Cheese’s or another inane PG movie or ice skating at the mall.... You fill in the blank. The true surprise is that the child survives this horrible let down and she comes up with (drum roll) another that does not involve you (wild applause). Another self-sufficient and creative child is made.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Volunteering--Just Say No

It is all too often in public schools that mothers are “tapped” to volunteer at school functions. And although I don’t mind giving money to the PTA or worthy causes such as buying a cow for hungry family in Africa, the thought of volunteering for certain school events goes against my New England upbringing. Beanie Baby Bingo, Ice Cream Day, and the most offensive of all—Restaurant Day.

At other schools, in the city, Restaurant Day is when the parents come to the school and the children act as waiters and take the parents’ orders, serve the food, tot-up the checks and make the parents to pay. All the money goes to the school. The kids learn, it is a change of pace for the parents and the school gets money. It is a win-win-win situation.

Here is the suburbia, because the children are not spoiled enough by being driven around in SUVs with DVD movies playing on surround sound for their enjoyment, we are also supposed to take a day off from work to go into their elementary school to act as waiters and serve them pizza.

I received a desperate e-mail from an ubermom a few weeks before the Restaurant Day begging for parents to help wait tables for the event. Obviously I was not the only parent who felt the event was redundant to life.

“Honestly” I told the eager mother--”Is it not enough that we serve the little beasts breakfast AND dinner, must we take off work to go and serve lunch to them at the school as well? ”

The Ubermom responded--”But, but...the children, the children....they work so hard at school—this is just a little gesture to tell them we appreciate them...”
“I don’t know about your kid, but I feel my child is barely hard can it be? “

This bizarre behavior makes me wonder if my Brita water filter is really strong enough to keep me safe from what ever is causing this distorted belief that we are raising princes and princesses who must be praised, pampered, and doted on constantly.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Is Alcohol Appropriate?

That was a question a mother posed to me when I invited her and her Barbie-esque daughter to The Beast’s 4th birthday party—her Butterfly Birthday Party and I mentioned cocktails would be served (and noticing her look--not of delight, but horror) I the adults..of course.

“Is alcohol appropriate?” Said the obviously perfect mom...or at least, the sober mom...

“My husband and I just survived four years of sleepless nights, yes alcohol is very appropriate for us, but the decision is purely personal—you can always opt for a juice box.” I said, trying to be inclusive, but feeling like I had stumbled upon a podperson from The Body Snatchers. I mean—really...who would give up a pleasant afternoon of sipping wine with friends as the children run wild for some higher responsible parenting?

As it turned out, her daughter was suddenly busy that afternoon and subsequent is odd how that can happen. We were not even trying to weed The Beast’s social circle yet.