Sunday, April 26, 2009

How to Avoid Carpool Nazis

We all know it takes a village to raise a kid...actually what it REALLY takes is a tight-knit group of friends who work together like generals on a battlefield to coordinate the tactical movements of the troops...I mean the carpooling of the kids to the endless activities in the suburbs.

Of course there are always some insurgents when it comes to carpooling—they are called the Executive Ubermoms. True to the popular, mean girls they probably were back in the good old high school days they speak to non-ubermoms only AFTER they have exhausted their elite unit of freundlins.

You can tell when they are ready to see them you...not past you at some other highly successful, business suited mommy, BUT right at YOU. If you are not someone who can say “NO” in a VERY straight-forward way—leave immediately and avoid all eye-contact on your way to the door—the Executive Ubermom wants something from you—a CARPOOLING agreement.

Of course, I am a LazyMom and feel that if we have never shared a glass of wine together you can be damn sure I am not going to be driving your little brat ANYWHERE. But so many of my friends are, thankfully, Supermoms and they are SO NICE. They cannot deflect the advances of the cold, calculating strategist and like the French Resistance—the Supermoms crumbles under the Nazis Car Pool “Coordinators”...

Be constantly aware--one might goose-step up behind you in her high-heels and you turn to see a false smile plastered on a perfectly foundation laden face and just as you are trying to figure out if Botox is the reason for the lack of wrinkles or the thickness of make-up layers...she drops the bomb...before you even have a chance to planned an exit strategy— “We are both SO busy and wouldn’t it be easier [for me] if we could work out a carpool arrangement since we live so close together?”

There are many answers to this request, but here are a few to memorize and have at the ready the next time you hear the click-click-click of little professional high-heels behind you on the linoleum school floor:
  • “I am NOT busy, I don’t need your help—Thanks SO MUCH for your concern.” Then turn quickly away.
  • “Actually your house IS out of the way for me.”
  • “I would rather have splinters shoved under my fingernails.”
  • “of course... and just to let you know, in case you have heard—we have contained our bedbug infestation.”
  • “Oh, my license has been suspended for drunk driving—Are you okay with that? “

So remember—the best defensive is a good offense.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Nothing New Under the Sun

Have you ever read the Golden Ass?
No, no, no—it is NOT on the New York Times Best Seller List. Its copyright is circa 100 A.D. Who knew just 100 years after Christ there was SO much going on... magic, sex, scandal, bestiality. It was a REAL eye-opener for me as a 16 year old girl who thought it would be interesting, and super-intellectual, to read this Greco-Roman work that was written so, so long ago...and indeed it was. Needless to say—I could NOT put the book down and I believe that was the moment I decided to major in Classics in college.

But I digress before I even get going....the other day I looked up a quote that I had seen on my day planner from someone I was not familiar with. Dorothy Dix-- “I have learned to live each day as it comes, and not to borrow trouble by dreading tomorrow. It is the dark menace of the future that makes cowards of us. “

I love a little research--so crawling the web I discovered that Dorothy Dix was born in 1861 and died in 1951 and was “the forerunner of today's popular advice columnists, Dorothy Dix was America's highest paid and most widely read female journalist at the time of her death. ( I have ANOTHER hero) Her advice on love and marriage was syndicated in newspapers around the world. With an estimated audience of 60 million readers.”--thank you Wikipedia.

Intrigued by this turn of the century Dear Abby, I, of course, ran to my local library to get more information about her. I LOVE self-help books! How to Increase Your Income by Raising Gerbils, 101 Ways to Heat-Up Your Relationship via e-mail etc.. And I adore what I call popcorn research—Why Women Don’t Negotiate Well, Why Girls Become Insecure at 10, Why Men use Language that Make Women want to Punch Them in the Head...I am a complete obviously I HAD to find out more about this self-help pioneer via some popcorn research book.

Now what is odd is that because I am completely in love with the IDEA of improving myself...I ALSO have a free subscription to a magazine called: Successful Living...which, of course, I LOVE even though their fact-checkers leave something to be desired. Because, really, who doesn’t want to hear the story of the woman who made millions of dollars developing Bert’s Bees Products after living in a shack with her infant twins once she was abandoned by her husband....Just click here—you KNOW you want to read the story.

As fate would have it in the most recent issue of Successful Living they had a story on Robert Holden, the author of Be Happy. And I found during my “research” --“Miss Dix’s Dictates for a Happy Life.” I will not go through all the similarities between contemporary Robert and old Dorothy since there are SO MANY, and frankly Robert Holden pales in comparison, but here is just the first one:

Dorothy Dix
First. Make up your mind to be happy. Happiness is largely a matter of self-hypnotism. You can think yourself happy or you can think yourself miserable. It is up to you...learn to find pleasure in simple things. If you can’t go to the opera, you can turn on the radio. Nail on your face the smile that won’t come off, and after a bit you will find that it comes naturally.

Robert Holden
For happiness, according to Holden, is simply a matter of choice.

Happiness, Sex, Scandal, Bestiality....some things never change.

Anyone interested in buying a gerbil?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Flying with Tinker Bell--Parenting and PR

The Eighth Wonder of the World in my book was the transformation of a child from a screaming brat into an adorable budding novelist in just a few short minutes by my friend, Ms. PR. It happened many years ago when our daughters were still very young.

Her child was clinging to a life sized doll of Tinker Bell in the Disney store. Ms. PR explained to the small girl—”Sweetheart, our house is so small that we will have to ask daddy to move out if you want to bring that Tinker Bell doll home. “ This, of course, did not phase on the child. “Daddy can visit.”

Not panicked, but I could tell her mind was nimbly trying to work out a plan when she spotted IT--a sparkling pencil....shining at the check-out counter...her Holy Grail. Ms. PR grabbed the pencil and nonchalantly said to her little girl--”Oh—I was sorting hoping we could buy this magic pencil instead.” The child loosened her grip on the doll... attracted, as all small girls are, to anything that sparkles.

Ms. PR waved the pencil like a magic wand in front of the mesmerized child. “Do you want to hear about the magic pencil?” asked the dark witch...ops...I mean Ms. PR. And I could tell...she was STILL thinking of a spin, of an angle that would make this $1.99 pencil more interesting than the hideous and hideously expensive doll. The child, now mouth open and totally engrossed in the pencil, shook her head YES--unable to even speak. “This pencil is very, very special. With this MAGIC pencil we can write to the REAL Tinker Bell and she will come to you in your dreams and you will fly together just like Peter Pan and Wendy “ The child let go of the doll and reached out to “magic pencil’ and she was happy with her choice.

It just goes to show that it is all about perspective.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Mommy Cliques

I hate cliques.

I managed to successfully avoid cliques in high school by rarely attending classes and when I was there--my group of friends was so small and so scattered among the cliques I never really had a chance to belonged to any one group.

But NOW I have a deep, dark secret—I am part of a Mommy Clique. Don’t pretend that you are a not. Anyone with a child and a job HAS to join one, there is no way around it once the child is in school and doing “afterschool activities.”

The pre-school mommy cliques are completely different than public school because you can predefine who you are by the pre-school your choose. If you send your child to some touchy-feely German preschool where the child just runs wild all day long, sings semi-pagan songs, piles onto one futon with the other kids for a nap, where closing the bathroom door is optional AND where parents are served mulled wine at school plays --chances are there are just two cliques of mommies—the ones lining up for the mulled wine and then the OTHER mommies who are desperately looking for another pre-school because they thought this little school had a “German immersion program.”

Public school brings on a whole different set of issues. You are thrown, once again, into the larger spectrum of society (just like in high school) and you must reassess where you, and now your child, belong in the social mix.

We all know the cliques, but I will list the most common ones and its high school equivalent for easy of identification.

The PTA mommy clique (Cheerleaders)
The non-PTA, but volunteer a lot mommy clique (Flag-twirlers)
The popular mommy clique (the pretty smart girls who are going to good private colleges)
The stay at home mommy clique (the greaser girls)
The crunchy super organic mommies (the camping/ Grateful Dead listening girls)
The super-smart mommy clique (you know—they got 800s on the SATs...)
The artsy mommy clique ( the music/art freaks and geeks)

Of course, being a Lazy Mom rules out entrance to many of the mommy cliques.

The PTAing and Volunteering mom cliques—I am FAR too lazy.

My economic and intellectual needs rule out the stay at home mom clique.

The popular mommy clique—they breed popular daughters and The Beast feels the popular girls are mean and “are really just afraid of losing their BFFs.” The Beast is far nicer and far more socially aware then I am--so I generally go with her opinion and steer clear of the popular moms—because I would hate to displace a BFF and get in an ubermom’s firing line. Because e-mail CAN be an ugly thing.

The crunchy moms are SO NICE, but again—our own personal short comings get in the way...we love red meat, red I am a firm believer in vaccinating children and using antibiotics appropriately....need I say more.

The smarts moms—they are so busy and so good--makes me tired just thinking about them. We liked the idea of the science fair and the Beast and her friend thought of many creative exhibits to build... such as the bowel model that farts etc...and even went to museums for further inspiration, but when it came time for the research bit....

So...that leaves us with the Artsy Mom Clique—which is just fine...slightly kooky, crunchy, smart and willing to carpool at the drop of a hat.

Mulled wine anyone?