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Archive for May, 2008

Our kickoff party for Vacation Bible School is coming up soon, and it’s being held at a local private swim club.  Because this year I am forcing Spawn to go to VBS (hey, if I have to be on the snacks committee for it, the kid is going), we will be attending the party.  Spawn will be all over this, because the kid has talked about nothing else but going to the pool for going on two weeks now. 

But I — I have to find myself a decent swimsuit. 

This is the part where I say that you men out there have it pretty easy in the swimsuit department.  Your choices are fairly simple and straightforward — trunks, Speedos, board shorts.  It’s one format, basically.  But women’s suits are so much more varied, as are women’s bodies and the perceptions women have about their bodies.  It’s a minefield. 

I bought a swimsuit back in January before our big trip, and since it was January I had to make do with what I could order off the Land’s End website.  There was nothing to be had at the mall.  So I closed my eyes and took the plunge, and while the suit I bought was a very nice suit, I can tell you with reasonable certainty that swimsuits are best purchased in person. 

I will be the first to admit that I am pretty picky about things such as swimsuits.  If I had a rockin’ bod it would be a different story, I’m sure, because I could throw just about any old thing on and it would look great.  And my pickiness in this department reaches back pretty far, back to the days where I was flat-chested and in desperate need of something, anything, a miracle, to give the illusion of boobs.  Now that I’ve got that base covered the focus has moved south and I’m trying to disguise a no-longer-flat stomach. 

I’m not a big fan of parts of me hanging out, either.  One of the things I don’t do well is that girly, ladylike posturing thing, the graceful strolling and artful posing that comes with the territory of being womanly.  I mean, I do okay, when the occasion warrants it, but I like to enjoy activities without having to worry about adjusting my clothing. 

Then there’s the issue of color.  Let’s face it, there are colors that I just can’t wear.  I’m a white chick.  Really white.  Certain colors make me look anemic at best.  And then there are the colors I can wear, but the tones need to be at a certain level or those colors don’t look good either.

So to recap:  ample boob coverage, stomach disguise, no weird cuts, pleasant color.  Should be a piece of cake, no? 

Gah. 

— Mox  

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So today is my 15th anniversary. 

The fact that my husband and I have been hitched for 15 arduous years makes us something of a minority within our circle of friends.  We’ve seen the rise and fall of many a relationship over the years, and as a result we don’t have a lot of “couple friends.” 

When you are in a committed relationship, it’s hard to find a couple to be friends with where each of the four of you likes one another, or at least feels comfortable with everyone.  If you’re going to go out for dinner with people, it helps if you can have a conversation that doesn’t feel like it’s forced.  We’ve had a few couple friends where the relationship has really “clicked” and we’ve all gotten along well.  When you have that, count yourself as blessed. 

The problem comes when those couples don’t remain couples.  When a couple splits up there is the inevitable break with their couple friends.  Sometimes one or the other of the couple will retain custody of that particular relationship, but it’s never really the same after that.  Someone always feels left out. 

The last set of couple friends we had dissolved right before my eyes.  They were a classic case of two people who should have never gotten married in the first place, but they had a child together and decided to do the “right” thing and get married.  Some people get the cart before the horse when the horse should have never come out of the barn to begin with.  But I digress.  At any rate, I knew the relationship was doomed when she started confiding things to me that I didn’t want to know, things that proved to me that she was lying to him about just about everything.  When a relationship is built on one lie after another no one should be surprised when it finally tanks. 

As the friends in this scenario, custody of our relationship was awarded to the man, since he was my husband’s friend to begin with.  Now whenever we get together it’s three of us, and while I enjoy his company I do miss having another female perspective in the conversation. 

Most of our friends count on us to be the stable couple.  And we are, but not without a lot of development over the years. 

My husband and I often scratch our heads and wonder aloud to each other how we’ve managed to keep this relationship going for so many years.  Sure, there are couples of our acquaintance who’ve been married longer, but an good many of them seem to be locked into a staring contest to see who blinks (and dies) first.  There’s a lot of animosity, is what I’m saying.  My husband and I have our acrimonious moments, to be sure, but for the most part we’re comfortable with one another. 

Don’t discount the comfort factor.  Part of a long-term relationship is knowing where all the warts and scars are on another person and being basically okay with that.  I don’t know at what point we settled into this comfort zone with one another, but it’s far, far better than the mercurial ebb and flow of emotions that we used to live with. 

It’s either that or we’re just too damned stubborn to give up. 

— Mox

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Today is the last day of first grade. 

We were supposed to be out of school on the 15th but we missed a lot of school due to weather this year, which extended the school year a couple of weeks.  Now the end is here. 

I’m having a hard time deciding which is more nerve-wracking for Mama here, the first day of school or the last.  I can’t believe my baby is finished with first grade.  I started getting butterflies in my stomach this morning taking the kid to school.  What is wrong with me? 

These past ten months have been quite the experience for all of us.  While it’s always hard to embark on the necessary work of growing up, it’s especially painful to have to watch your kid’s innocence being tempered by life’s experiences.  Spawn has, in the past month or so, really become more grown, more settled.  It’s forcing me to alter the way I relate to the kid, too.  Nowadays when I joke around and act silly I’m more likely to hear a sigh and “Mom, you’re weird.”  And when a seven-year-old tells you you’re weird, then buddy, you’re weird. 

So I’m weird but I’m also just a little bit sad that my kid is finished with first grade.  While I’m not going to miss the homework battles and the constant washing of uniforms, I am going to miss the rhythm of the days and the nightly reports of what happened at school today.  This year everything has been new and amazing and perplexing and all those things that it will never be again. 

But it’s been a hard year, too.  I have been on the quest for answers since about mid-September, and it’s taken me most of the school year to find out just what’s going on in my kid’s head.  To have confirmation of what I have always suspected was going on with my kid has been both a relief and a curse.  It’s nice to know that I’m not crazy, or overreacting, but in a lot of ways I wish I were.   Some days parenting feels like penance.  It’s hard not to look toward the heavens on those days and ask why. 

And today we close the first chapter of what I hope is a long and positive book on education. 

— Mox

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My inlaws were their usual, charming selves this weekend.  I spent my Sunday afternoon picking cigarette butts up off my front lawn and briefly considering putting them into an envelope and mailing them back to the offending party with a note: “here, you forgot these.” 

Today I sent an email off to one of my friends apologizing for the crude innuendo-laden comments my brother-in-law directed at her. 

I don’t do rude very well.  I don’t have much use for rudeness in any form.  Especially when it comes from my family, who I expect to behave in the most non-rude way possible.  Maybe I’m asking too much. 

The thing that gives me pause is, one day my parents will be gone and these people will be the only family I have.  Other than my cousins, of course. 

So I am trying out a new philosophy:  Let it go. 

This is hard for me, since I tend to want to ruminate on things a bit.  But maybe it’s part of the work I need to do to become a better person. 

— Mox

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My best friend, like most all of my friends, has a teenager in her home.  Two, in fact.  I’m down here in the minor leagues because I waited past the age of 30 to have a baby, and so I watch the things that my friends are going through with their older children.  And I shudder. 

I call it How Not To Raise Your Kids. 

My best friend’s oldest teen is now 18 and by and large a huge pain in the ass.  He’s apathetic and disrespectful, dirty, lazy, and just clever enough to string his parents along.  This is something that has been coming for years, and the time to have stopped some of his nonsense was right about the time he hit puberty.   Except my friend and her husband never really followed through on what they should have done.  Instead they have given him numerous second chances, and he’s managed to walk right over top of them every time. So now they have an 18-year-old with a criminal record. 

Maybe if he were my child I would feel differently, but you get to the point with some people that you just need to cut and run.  That time is long past with this kid. 

I have a photo of this kid holding a newborn Spawn.  The kid was 11 at the time, and was crazy about Spawn.  As Spawn grew into a toddler, the adoration was returned.  Right about the time he turned 15, I started pulling Spawn away from this boy’s influence, because it was apparent to me that the boy was headed for trouble.  And his parents did nothing but soft-shoe the discipline. 

Maybe if he were my kid I’d do it differently, but what this kid needed back then was a good old fashioned trip to the woodshed.  He needed boot camp.  He needed a strong hand. 

What he got was mollycoddling. 

I am not surprised — not at all! — that right now he’s facing a court date and a fine, and down the road, jail time.  Because this first “adult” offense isn’t going to be the last one.  He had quite a few juvy offenses. 

What surprises me (and maybe it shouldn’t) is that his parents continue to hand-hold, to negotiate, to bail out.  The boy’s 18, for Pete’s sake.  He needs to fall, hard, and soon.  Or else he’s going to be an emotional and financial drain on his family as long as he can be. 

I’ve got a little perspective on this, because in my family we have just such a black sheep of our own.  My cousin has been in and out of jail numerous times, does drugs, deals drugs.  His parents have tried to “save” him.  Now it’s at the point that none of the rest of the family knows where he is, how he is, because my aunt and uncle don’t talk about him.  They’re ashamed.  I understand that.  It doesn’t stop my own affection and concern for him, though, because we were kids together. 

I can look into my crystal ball and see my friend’s son’s future because it’s a pattern that’s been laid out before me by my aunt and uncle.  Sure, they mollycoddled their son for a long time.  I think in doing so they were trying to make up for the birth defect he has.  But they couldn’t get around it, and therefore he couldn’t get around it.  And they allowed him to become what he is.  They never asked him to face the music.  Now that he’s past the age of 45 they’ve finally shut the door in his face.  And they are angry with him for not getting his act together on his own. 

Look, as parents we’re going to screw up our kids, somehow, some way.  But in not forcing them to be responsible for their own actions, how are they ever going to grow the fuck up? 

I watch all of this and I think about it and I draw my own conclusions.  It’s a scary path to be on, this parenting one.  I am trying to take these events and use them as lessons for me.  In the end all most of us want out of our kids, at the most basic level, is that they turn out to be decent people.  The trick is to realize that we are responsible for that outcome.  And that means making the tough choices sometimes. 

Right now things are relatively easy for me, because Spawn still thinks that I am The Shit around here.  This kid loves me with a blind adoration sometimes, and I freely return that.  I know that there will be a point where I become an embarrassment, a know-nothing.  So I am soaking up the love now.  I hope it will be enough to sustain me when I have to really be the heavy. 

 

— Mox

 

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Kyew-pons

I am starting to hyperventilate a little bit over money these days. 

When it takes over $40 to full up my little bitty car, and my weekly grocery budget brings home fewer items, and I’ve got bills coming out my ass, well, I can’t seem to enjoy life too much. 

I’ve started back on shopping with coupons here lately.  Not that I can tell a whole lot of difference in my bottom line at the checkout, but a dollar saved is a dollar saved. 

I recently became aware that people pronounce the word “coupon” in different ways. 

Most everyone around me says “kyew-pon” and I guess that’s just how it’s said in the backwoods where I live.  Two very distinct and drawn-out syllables, gotta love living in the South.  But I’ve also heard that some people pronounce it “coop-un” and yet others say it just how it’s spelled, “coo-pon.” 

What does it say about me that I distract myself with the vagaries of linguistics? 

— Mox

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I realize that as an only child I have a well-developed sense of what’s mine and I have some difficulty being charitable, excusing behavior out of someone just because they’re family.  My husband is a lot better at it than I am.  Either that or I have impossibly high standards.  It’s hard to tell. 

I never thought I’d be one of Those People, but I am.  I am working really hard at it but no matter how I try the fact remains that I am not especially fond of my inlaws. 

I suppose they’re all right.  We get along.  But we don’t have what one would call a close relationship. 

In a way I’m sad about that.  I grew up without a lot of close family ties, other than the aunts and uncles and cousins that live in the same town as I do.  My dad’s side of the family is expansive, and I have some cousins who I dearly love, though we all live hundreds of miles apart.  Of course I also have some cousins that I don’t give a whit about, so it balances. 

My inlaws live over two hours away from me, and I have long maintained that that’s a blessing for all of us.  My husband comes from a raucous family, and in a lot of ways I don’t fit in with them.  I do feel a love for them, a perfunctory sort of love because we are all in it together and I care for them because my husband does.  But I’ve never felt comfortable around them. 

My inlaws are coming to my house this weekend.  My husband always does a big barbecue for Memorial Day weekend, whether I want to or not, and his family troops in and wreaks havoc for 6-8 hours.  The kids run roughshod over everything, and one sister-in-law in particular curses like a sailor and flips her cigarette butts into my flowerbeds.  And when they are gone I will be cleaning up spilled drinks and broken stuff and trying to put my house back together.  I dread it. 

I want to enjoy it but at the end of the day I am defeated and tense and I cannot wait for them to leave.  I want to enjoy their company but I have a hard time overlooking the carelessness they exhibit when they bring their rambunctious kids to my house and let them loose. 

People who are more practical than I am ask me why I even put up with it if I hate it so much, and my answer is that it brings my husband so much pleasure to do this that I can’t deny him.  I deny him plenty else, let me tell you. 

 

— Mox

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