Archive for August, 2011

I love the fact that birthdays are a really big deal as far as Spawn is concerned.  My upcoming 44th annus horribilis has got the kid all a-twitter (in the old fashioned way, not the social media way) with the notion of me celebrating something, anything.  There has been mention of a surprise, though with Spawn that could mean just about anything, and considering the fact that The Day falls on a Thursday this year, the biggest surprise I could (and do) hope for is no homework and a lot of “yes ma’am” spread liberally through my house.  I don’t want much, you see.

Well, besides the above-mentioned, my mother’s homemade German chocolate cake would be nice.

My husband is neck deep in a new store opening, and won’t be home for the actual day, and I must actually be getting older because I am all kinds of fine with that.  I don’t remember when birthdays started to be kind of “meh” for me, but I’m just not all that het up about it.  I don’t really want anything — at least, not anything that someone could actually give me — and I don’t want a big fuss made, which has been my mantra for several years now.

Truth be told, this year I’m just not all that into it.  My husband will be working for the next week to ten days and therefore out of town much of the time, my best friend is working majorly sucky hours (3-11pm shift), my favorite cousin lives in Chicago (and she’d certainly show me a good time), and my dear sweet friend Denise has her kids this weekend and is unavailable.  It’s times like this I wish I had googobs of friends, but it’s not my nature to be close friends with more than a few people, and that means that when everyone is busy with their own lives around my birthday, I end up on the couch by myself.

I’ve sort of made some tentative plans to take Spawn on a little road trip this weekend, since my husband won’t be home.  As much as I’d love to have a “me” weekend, filled with lunch and drinks and shopping and general low-level hedonism, my Plan B is to road trip somewhere and spend money on my kid.  Do I know how to live it up or what?

The only problem with Plan B is that my mother seems to be hell-bent on sucking what little joy there is out of it.  Joy-sucking is one of my mother’s specialties, and though I don’t know exactly what the issue is that she has with Plan B, it’s probably fairly safe to assume it has something to do with her not being in control of it.  I love my mother, yes of course, but the woman is a big-time major controller.  (Though if I were to be fair about it I would have to admit that I tend to have control issues too, and thanks mom for lending me those particular genes.)  If she doesn’t like something she rains all over it, which means whatever enjoyment you were going to get out of it gets tainted.  She’s worried that Something Will Happen to us out on the road, and yes, Something might (might! maybe! statistically speaking!) but good lord that’s just no way to live life.

At any rate, the one thing I have semi-looked forward to since I pieced together the fact that I was going to have a dull weekend otherwise has now been rained on by my mother and I am pissed off about that.

(Dear God please don’t let me do this to Spawn amen.)

So I’m going to do what I always do:  go ahead with my plans, perhaps even more stubbornly so, with the slow burn in the back of my mind that comes from being pissed.  Because that is how I deal.  And dammit, I’m (going to be) 44 years old — at what point do I get to do what I want without my mother weighing in on it?  And even that wouldn’t be so bad if she didn’t just automatically dump all over everything just because it’s not within her control.  Weigh in with a “good for you!” once in a while, just to balance things out.  But no, my tentative plans got firmly concreted pretty quick.  Whatever ambivalence I felt about Plan B is now pushed aside in favor of Doing It No Matter What.

Can we say passive-aggressive?

— Mox

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I often try to imagine myself as one of Those Moms, you know, the ones who turn every little whim or mundane task into A Learning Experience, and enthusiastically so.  Once in a while I hit a home run in this department, but mostly I am The Mom Who Says No.

Spawn is one of those kids who is artistic and especially loves hands-on art activities.  Drawing and painting are fine, sure, but hand that kid a wad of clay or some paper and scissors and just stand back.

Consequently, my house is covered in little scraps of paper and ground-in-the-carpet wads of clay.  I’ve had to declare a moratorium on modeling clay.

Still, I try to accommodate the kid as much as I can, and encourage this messiness… to a point.  I am a huge fan of any art that can be done outside… and left outside.  Hence, we have boxes upon boxes of sidewalk chalk and paint.  I also don’t mind too terribly much those markers designed to write on glass, and my front door is a great canvas.  A trip to the beach is just about the best thing ever, because there is all that sand and detritus just waiting for someone to turn it into something arty.  (Plus mom gets to sit in a beach chair and read.)

But once in a while Spawn hits upon an idea that can’t be left outside, and that means it becomes a Major Ordeal.

Case in point:  the kid has decided that we need to make a paper mache bird of prey.  Life size.  As in, three feet tall with a wingspan of up to 41 inches.

The issues I have with this idea are numerous:

  1. I’ve never made paper mache (and yes, I know it’s supposed to be really easy).
  2. Paper mache is messy.
  3. My rule would be to do this totally outside, where it’s 95degrees and mosquito laden, whereas Spawn seems to think this will be an inside-where-it’s-air-conditioned project.
  4. As usual the kid hasn’t thought this all the way through and has no idea, really, how to execute it.
  5. Which means it will be up to ME to figure this out.
  6. Which leads into the potentially dangerous situation of me getting too involved with this project.
  7. Which means at some point Spawn will walk away from it.
  8. If by chance we get this project concepted and completed, the big question is:  where do we store it?

My house has just about reached critical mass, folks.  Currently there is a dishwasher carton masquerading as a box fort in Spawn’s room, where there is virtually no carpet showing due to all the other stuff that’s there.  Just about every surface of the house is covered with something that belongs to Spawn.  I don’t know where we would put anything additional.

Spawn, of course, has the problem all worked out:  add on to the house.

I must admit, there are times I envision the future for Spawn that includes a stint on the TV show Hoarders.

And this is where I must admit that I am ashamed of myself, that these are the things that are stopping me from being That Kind of Mom, the sort of parent who lets her kid be and do whatever just so long as there is no bloodshed.  I want for the kid to have good memories of me being game for some of the harebrained ideas that have come up, but I fear that just won’t be the case.  I hate to be a killjoy but I guess that’s just what I am.


— Mox

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Because I’m a little bit OCD, I have the well-earned reputation for being a pitcher, both at the office and at home.  I can fill up a trash can pretty quick given the right mood.  And while I’m not as much of a neatnik as I could be, the fact remains that I am the only such person in my household.  Spawn and my husband, being cut from the same cloth, are slobniks.  Which of course elevates me to the unenviable position as Chief of the Trash Police.

There’s a lot of grumbling that goes with this position.

Because my husband and my child are wired completely differently than I am, they don’t see trash.  I don’t know how a person can’t see something as plain as day.  And I cannot believe that they can walk over a pile of paper in the floor, it boggles my mind.  My husband can use the last of something and leave the container lying out and never give it another thought.  Spawn can be immersed in an art project and leave scraps of it everywhere and not once would it occur to the kid to clean up.  And if I say something to either one of them, I get a blank look.  They just don’t see trash.

I, on the other hand, see trash everywhere I turn at home.  My husband will fish through the newspaper bundler for the sports section and leave the paper in an off-kilter pile, and then further madden me by leaving the sports section wherever it is he reads it.  And I know that it’s a little thing, and it’s not a deal-breaker in the grand scheme of things, but little things have a tendency to become big things.  He’ll take the tags off a new pair of pants and leave the tags lying on the dresser.  For days.  Days!  I know this because I did an experiment to see how long it would take him to throw something like that away, and after about four days I couldn’t stand it any longer.  I have actually found tags in a dresser drawer where he raked them off the dresser top instead of tossing them in the trash.  What the hell?  He’ll go through his mail and rip up the junk mail and then leave it in a pile on the kitchen table, despite the fact that the trash can is not three feet away.

Spawn, being a mini version of my husband, cannot separate the wheat from the chaff, either.  And what’s worse, the kid is a fiend for recyclables.  I’ve learned to not ask Spawn to take certain items out to the recycle bins.  Cube-style tissue boxes become repositories for all manner of things, and I find them stashed all over the house.  Magazines get cut up and repurposed as art, which wouldn’t be so bad except the little bits and pieces left behind are just simply left behind, all over the floor.  And God forbid there should ever be a large box, particularly if that box is large enough to hold, say, a dishwasher.  For almost three months now I have had a box fort made out of a dishwasher box dragged to various locations in my house.  With numerous tissue-box addendums taped to the sides.

Don’t even get me started on the socks and shoes they both leave lying about.  It’s no wonder neither one of them can find proper footwear at any given time.

I think it might be entirely possible they have entered into an agreement to break my brain.

I spend a lot of time stooping and picking up.  I guess it’s good exercise — at least that’s what I tell myself.  Along with the constant running up and down the basement steps to do laundry.

I try very hard not to wish my life away, but there are certain parts of it that I will not be sorry to see go.



— Mox


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(Does not involve any female nudity.)  (Because that would be obvious.)

Step one:  Seat yourself in their midst.  Be oblivious to their existence.

Step two:  Take that honkin’ big designer purse and plunk it down, either on the table or in your lap.

Step three:  Start pulling stuff out of your purse.

After just a couple of minutes of cleaning out your purse in public, you’ll find the men in your midst watching you with rapt attention.  Sure, there will be the usual stuff — receipts, loose money, lipstick — that they expect to see, and if you’re like most women, there will be a selection of items that don’t quite make sense to the male mind.

You see, a woman’s purse is just about as close as a man can get to a Rosetta Stone.  Because a purse is so personal and private, the exposition of its contents can offer fascinating glimpses into a woman’s life.  A corkscrew, a socket wrench, a candy bar — whatever it is that you pull out of your purse will tell a man what he does and doesn’t know about you.  And what else he’d like to know.

Just be sure that whatever you do, don’t pull out a tampon.  That will sour the mystery quicker than anything else.



— Mox

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