Friday, April 29, 2011

Am I Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?

Hey, sweetie. How was school today?

Pretty good. Guess what, mom? I'm doing a project on wetlands!

Hey, cool, I love wetlands - what's your topic?

I got the letter E so I was

What do you mean you got the letter E?

The teacher assigned each person a letter of the alphabet and their wetland project has to be about something that starts with that letter. So I was going

Who's the poor sucker who got stuck with Z?

No one, there's only 25 kids in the class.

Well that's a relief.

So but I was going to

What about Q? Or U or V? Those would suck too.

I know Owen got V, I don't know what he's going to do, but I was going to do

Hey, how about Eleocharis?



What did you say?

Uh, Eleocharis, cool Genus, in all sorts of wetlands, awesome right?


Er, were you going to say something?

I was going to do the Elizabeth Hall Wetlands.

Oh. Huh. Wow. That's a good idea. How did you think of that?

I remembered Grandpa likes to go there to look at birds sometimes.

Huh. Well, that's a really good idea. Forget I said anything.

What did you say? Was it real words?

Yeah, it's real, it's a type of wetland plant.

Oh. I thought maybe you had some wine before I got home from school or something. (*makes drinky-drinky motion with hand*) I'm planning to do a presentation. Can I use the computer tonight?

*reeling from implications of ten-year-old child making drinky-drinky motion at me* Uh, yeah, sure. I can show you how to use PowerPoint, it's this program where you can make really nice slide presentations...

I already know how to make PowerPoints, mom. I do them all the time.

*reeling from implications of ten-year-old child being more technologically advanced than myself* Oh. Right. So do you, like, need a snack or something?

*laughs, waves sandwich in my direction* Mom, I was standing here making a sandwich the whole time we were talking! Do you want me to make one for you too?

*reeling from being in the frigging Twilight Zone* Uh, no thanks. I think I'll just lie down for a minute. I feel a little dizzy all of a sudden.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

In Case of Emergency, Break Something

You know what it's like getting back from a weekend away: you're (sortof) relaxed and happy(ish) of course, but you're also tired, and your bladder is setting a new Guinness record for capacity, and you have come to the conclusion that if you are ever forced to occupy the same cubic feet of car space as your family (*cough cough, kids*) EVER AGAIN - or at the very least, within the next year or ten - you may well lose your mind.

Within four seconds of pulling into the driveway, someone asks you what's for supper.

You might rant a little at this point, about - for instance - how you haven't even finished extricating all the Hot Wheels and mashed Easter candy from under the car seats, let alone had a frigging PEE or unpacked or Spray & Washed the chocolate stains off of every article of clothing that ever saw the interior of Grandma's house during Cadbury season. At some point during your rant, someone else will see you're in the vicinity of the kitchen and say, "Oh, good. I'm starved. What're you making?" and yet another someone will start climbing your legs and screaming, "Hungry and sirsty! Hungry and sirsty!"

You will think some really choice language at this point, but only a rather mild "Oh for Pete's sake!"- which, frankly, sometimes just doesn't fully express the scope of your discontent the way a good f-bomb would have, and now is one of those times - will actually cross your lips, and you will huff your discontented ass over to the fridge to see what you can rustle up for supper.

(Actually, you will do that special walk that parents do when a small child has latched onto their leg, which, frankly, sometimes just doesn't fully express the scope of your discontent the way a good huff would have. And now is one of those times.)

But anyways, you will lurch awkwardly over to the fridge, uttering gentle grievances all the while, and will find that your fridge contains precisely:

- one-half bag of green onions, slightly wilted.

Organic, yes; filling, no.

You will realize at this point two very important things about life:

1. Green onions are the most useless fucking vegetable on earth.
2. So THIS is how McDonald's stays in business.

With fifteen years still on the parenting clock, you will break the glass on your last remaining emergency ration of mental restraint. You and your bladder will get back in the car with your kids, in fact well within the decade, and hightail it for the nearest drive-thru.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Honey Do, Honey Don't

Sometimes - in moments of weakness, perhaps, or simply a human need to reach out to other troubled souls - women make confessions to me. Whispered things, usually, that speak of the deep self-doubt that arises from the ceaseless measuring of oneself against capricious and impossible standards of femininity.

Whatever their form, the contents of these confessions can be distilled into a single question: How do other women do it all? And following naturally from that, Why can't I?

But what is all of "it" that they're talking about? Long story short, "it" is nothing less than everything: raising successful kids; having a successful career; maintaining a home; maintaining relationships; personal, spiritual and professional growth; giving back to the community; eating five to ten servings of fruits and veggies every day; defying age, gravity and the effects of child-bearing/rearing and chronic stress on one's face and body; yadda fucking yadda.

One woman confessed to me that she never actually folds laundry, she just piles it on the guest room bed. Whenever someone in the house needs an article of clothing, they rummage through the pile. I say "confessed" in the sense that this facet of her life was revealed sotto vocce, nervously and a little apologetically, and was swiftly followed by an almost pleading, "How do you manage it all?"

Uh, I don't. Who the hell gave anyone the impression that I have anything under control, let alone everything? Hasn't she ever read my blog? Hasn't she ever seen the size of my ass? The bags under my eyes? The junk piled up in my basement? Clearly I am not doing it all. Actually, I had just been wondering how she managed it all. How did we all get so confused?

* * *

I have a confession to make.

I'm on a bit of a staycation right now. A little while ago I thought, I'm burned out and emotionally exhausted. I need to take care of myself, I need a break, and I need it to be alone. I'm so desperate for time away from other humans that I booked a few vacation days, booked a sitter, and planned to enjoy a few precious hours alone in my own home.

Enter cognitive dissonance: I feel silly for wasting money on child care when I'm not at work. I feel guilty for being "unproductive". I feel like I have to justify my break, loud and clear so no one could think me lazy or crazy or ridiculous.

So I started planning: I'll wash the walls. I'll touch up the paint throughout the house where it's a little thin or chipped or blobbed onto the ceiling. I'll print off, organize and file three years' worth of photos. I'll catch up on paperwork and correspondence. I'll clean the fridge and stove and car, inside and out, and clean and organize the basement while I'm at it. I'll volunteer at the school and take a load of junk to the dump and make casseroles to take to my neighbours and friends. I'll work out every day.

You know by now that I'm prone to exaggerating, but literally and truly, that was my to-do list for the four child-free (for approximately 7.5 hours per day) days I had planned this week. For the four child-free days I've had this past decade, and probably the only ones I can expect for the next decade too.

If that's not the very definition of INSANITY I don't know what is.

So I took a long, hard look at my (obviously flawed) thought process, and the problem boiled down to this: I believed that if I could just plough through that list of Things-Not-Done that is constantly hanging over my head, if I could tick off those "outstanding" boxes off my list, I would actually be "managing it all". I would finally be caught up, if only for a short while until more Things took the place of the Things I had crossed off, or the same Things crept back up on me, as such Things are wont to do.

I realized that I don't need a to-do list, I need counseling! So I balled up that sack of useless guilt and assumed obligation and pitched its sorry ass out the window, and I made some new goals:

That's right, four bottles. One glass. Get over it.

For seven-point-five hours per day this week, I am on vacation in the real and true sense. Any activity I plan to engage in, I first hold up to my emotional compass: if it elicits the slightest twinge of guilt or obligation, I refuse to do it. I have embarked on a dedicated journey of unstructured, unproductive time, unbeholden to anyone. For the record, I'm feeling wonderful - more relaxed and well-rested and peaceful than I've felt in ages. Cheapest counseling ever.

One day my sweet little babies will be grown up and moved out and I'll have all the alone time I can handle, and in fact probably more than I'll be able to stand. I'll clean the basement then. For now, who gives a shit?

I'll drink to that.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Curriculum Vitae

I recently discovered there's a "Stats" tab at the top of my blog dashboard. It doesn't present me with statistics per se, but if I click on it I am taken to a marvelous page where I can see how many people have viewed my blog over various timeframes (hour, day, week, etc.), which posts have been viewed over that timeframe, the referring URLs, and - most interestingly - a map of the world showing where in the world people have been viewing my blog.

I say "most interestingly" for a couple of reasons: first of all, since I rarely leave my house (let alone Canada), I consider it proof positive that I'm not the only person in the world reading, and secondly - Sweden? China? Slovenia? Really? FASCINATING!!!

Hellooooo, Ljubljana!

But at the same time, I'm a little concerned. I know we're all besties here on the interwebs, but I do tend to write with my close friends in mind, and I can understand how a headlong plunge into the deeper recesses of my personality might be a little off-putting to the uninitiated.

In the interest of getting ourselves better acquainted, I have compiled a top ten list of essential reading to familiarize new followers with the life and times of the Frecklepeltian era. The list is by no means exhaustive, but will contribute a solid foundational understanding of the recurrent themes and styles present in related works.
1. "Get to Know Your Friends"
2. Getting to Hope You Like Me
3. Day at the Races
4. Housework Man
5. Who Lives on Drury Lane?
6. How Things Go Terribly Wrong in Relationships
7. Like Riding a Bicycle
8. Mysteries of the Unexplained
9. Take It or Leave It
10. If Wives Rules the World...

I encourage you to continue exploration of this blog through further study (recommended supplemental reading list provided below), and welcome your questions and comments.
11. It's Business Time
12. Retarded in the Mouth
13. Testicle Festival
14. Ask a Stupid Question...
15. Five to Ten a Month
16. Things Every Kid Should Know
17. Murphy vs. Darwin
18. Retirement Planning
19. Locked in the Trunk of a Car
20. Cheese With That?

Bonus credit:
Suggestive Vegetable Day