Monday, May 17, 2010

Kate's Karma

Patience might be a virtue, but it's not one I own. However, if I had known the wonderful, delicious, satisfying taste awaiting me in the form of consequential payback, I would have enjoyed the challenge of raising Kate even more than I have. And I might have gotten through the last 18 years without the bald patches. But I'm told the hair will grow back. Not until the youngest graduates, of course, but it will all be gray by then anyway, right?

But back to the payback.

Last week Kate experienced a last day of Catholic School Education that was hysterically karmic. Well,hysterical for me.

To truly appreciate the situation, you have understand a few things about my beautiful, stubborn, willful, hard-headed, intelligent, determined daughter. Perhaps I can most efficiently communicate my point by explaining that when she was five years old, I bought and read in one sitting a parenting book entitled The Manipulative Child. She was five. And I was already feeling continuously played. Did I mention, SHE WAS FIVE?!

Kate had her own way of getting what she wanted. Even if I went into a situation planning to say no to whatever the request was, she knew exactly how to work it so that I ended up saying yes. For example--How Kate asked to go to friend's house:

"Mom, Cory called and she's upset because her brother rode her bike and broke it and her dad said it can't be fixed and that was the bike her Grandma gave her and you know she's very close to her Grandma. You know, the same Grandma who had a heart attack last month and they thought she was gonna die. Her Grandma's doing better, but Cory's hamster actually did die, just this morning and you know that's the hamster she begged her parents for for two years and finally Santa brought it and she said that was the best Christmas ever and now she'll only remember it as a sad Christmas because the hamster died, which reminded her that her Grandma is still sick and is not getting any younger. So Cory is having a really bad day and she really wants me to come over just to bring a little happiness to her existence. Don't you think I should go over there?"

How could I say no to that?

Kate also has a knack for getting out of anything that even remotely looks like a consequence. And in Catholic school, where you get a demerit for having the wrong color socks or even the wrong color ink in your ballpoint, getting out of consequences is quite an accomplishment. Here's how Karma finally came back around:

I tried to wake her up before I left. Even though it makes her mad because I leave 10minutes before her alarm goes off so I interrupt her precious last 10 minutes, I do it anyway. Habit, I guess. But this time she fell back to sleep and the alarm failed. Score 1 for Karma! SO she wakes up 45 minutes late, pulls on whatever clothes happen to be on the top of the clothes hamper that is her bedroom floor and speeds to school. She missed her first hour finals. She's sent to the Principal's office where not one, but three principals interrogate her on the reason for her disheveled tardiness. Luckily, they believe her excuse, but don't excuse her absence. And for that, she must serve a detention...during 4th the lunchroom...on her last day...with 800 student witnesses.

So Kate, still bedheaded and morning-breathed and now red-faced heads to the lunchroom where she sweeps and mops and wipes and cleans everyone else's garbage. Then, they marched her to the hallway to clean those because she was out of uniform!

When I hear this, I have to laugh because she doesn't even clean up her own garbage at home. That's mom's job, right?

I remember when I was Kate's age and how my parents used to shake their heads and tell me they hope that when I have children of my own that they are just like me. They were true believers in "what goes around comes around." And now I've joined that club--the one where membership is earned only when you've been able to witness whatever your kids sent around, coming back around. I'm actually a VIP member, because Kate's Karma was witnessed and documented by her peers.

I'm also a true believer that if you are going to laugh at a situation sooner or later, you might as well make it sooner. Luckily, that is one bit of mom philosophy that Kate has bought into. It served her well on the last day of Catholic School and I'm sure it will serve her well next time Karma comes around.

By the way, Kate--for all the laughter and smiles and happiness that you have sent around--be patient. If you learned nothing else in 12 years of school, surely you'll never forget your last day lesson. What goes around comes around. If you are patient enough to wait for it.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Cools Moms

On occasion I've been accused of being a cool mom. Mind you these accusations didn't come when I was caught belting Josh Groban in the car...with the windows the stoplight in front of the high school. They also didn't come as I sobbed, red-nosed and wet-faced because I always forget the Kleenex, at every single show my kids performed from preschool Christmas concerts to professional Dinner Theatre. They certainly didn't come when I excitedly cheered, until my I lost my voice, for our team's goalie as she stopped shot after shot after shot...and called her by her sister's name the entire time. No, those were certainly not my Cool Mom Moments. Those blunders, however, pale to nothingness when compared to the story I read recently of a very uncool mom.

Imagine the scene: The 13 year old daughter is pumped because her mom said she could invite some girls over for a slumber party. Her mom is "cool". She knows how to have a good time. This mom's party planning goes way beyond ghost stories and gossip. So the girls come over, ready for a night no one will forget. Maybe. Or maybe most of them won't remember it. Because the mom's idea of entertainment involves beer and vodka. Lots of it. In fact, the mom is so "cool" she offered a prize of ten buck to which ever 13 or 14 year old could drink the most Vodka!

When the police crashed the party, they found six drunk teens and 70 beer bottles as well as vodka and bourbon bottles. Two of the girls were taken to the hospital. Wow! What a "Cool" mom.

I remember when I was a teenager and how "Cool" I thought the parents were who had the attitude, "They are going to drink anyway. At least if they drink at my house, I know where they are." But I was a teenager. In other words, young and naive and stupid. One would hope that as we get older, our ideas of "Cool" change.

Of course this story made the news because it is extreme. Most sane and sober parents, I hope anyway, would agree that this kind of parenting is wrong. In fact, it's illegal. It's a felony, actually. But it did get me to thinking about the other ways we indulge our children's young, naive and stupid ideas of "cool."

Do we text our kids at school, knowing they aren't supposed to use their phones but also knowing they are doing it anyway, so at least we know who they are texting? Worse, do we text our teens when we know they are behind the wheel thinking that somehow a driving text from Mom won't be as lethal as text from the boyfriend? Do we let them stay out past our community's curfew laws? Do we pay their parking or speeding tickets and increased insurance because it's convenient for us to have them taxi the younger siblings? Do we call in sick for them to the school because if they are going to play hooky anyway, at least we know where they are? Do we sneak our preteens into R-rated movies because they will probably see it at a friend's house when it comes out on video anyway?

I think you get the point. It's a slippery slope that slides faster the older they get.

I'm not sure why I sometimes get accused of being a cool mom. I hope it's because of the miniature candy bars I used to have in the car when I drove on field trips. Or the fact that I sit beside my kids while we check out their facebook page together rather than stalking them and questioning every post.

I hope it's maybe because I always want my kids to know they and their friends have an emotionally safe place in my heart and home, even when they screw up. And even when I screw up. And that's a definition of "Cool Mom" I hope never changes.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Happy Soccer Mom's Day

For just about the last ten years, I've spent Mother's day at the same place...the soccer fields! Not once have I been greeted with flowers or candy or a card or special seating. Nope, it seems that the soccer fields don't distinguish between Mother's Day and any other game day.

And, at my house, the Soccer Moms don't either. We still wash the uniforms, find the missing shin guard, pack up the water bottles, nag about applying sunscreen, and rush off to the game in the same spirit we do every fall and spring weekend. We still cheer from the sidelines. We still silently curse the ref's bad calls (unless you are Annoying Mom, then it's not so silently). We still console the losers and congratulate the victors.

This year, I've decided to make the Mother's Day Soccer Game extra special for myself. I've threatened to do this for a long, long time. This is the year. I'm finally going to follow through.

I'm going to buy one of the fancy lawn chairs. My cheap bargain store chair that I bought just last fall is already falling apart. It's time for a new one anyway. So I'm going all out and purchasing the Mother of all Lawn Chairs.

It's pink and white striped with fashionable scalloped edges. It comes complete with footrest and awning. There's a fold out table attached so I will have somewhere to put my fancy fruit kabobs I plan to snack on during half-time. And I'll bring a matching insulated mug from which I will sip my ice-cold lemonade. All that will be missing is a cabana boy to fan my face. Ahhhh.....

You think I'm joking. Well, I'm not. After ten years of Happy Soccer Mom Day, I looking forward to this one. After all, why should we be reduced to sitting on the itchy grass or the muddy blanket or the broken bargain store chair? Especially on our special day of honor. I can't wait. I can see it now...

I'll pull the lawn chair out of the van. It's twice the size of the bargain one. But that's okay. I can handle it. Oh, got to grab the cooler full of fruit kabobs and the lemonade. And the camera so we can document this special day. Then I reach up to pull down the back door of the van...and it all comes tumbling down. But that's okay. I laugh, shrug it off, shut the door, pick it all up and trudge cross country to where all the best sideline spots are taken because it took me so long to carry my load. So I set up on the end. And miss the first five minutes of the game because the set-up instruction manual that comes with the Mother of all Lawn Chairs blew away before I even had the damn thing out of the case so I didn't know what the hell I was doing and ended up cursing the chair rather than the ref. But I finally sit, and when half-time comes I reach into the cooler and poke a skewer underneath my fingernail which makes me wail in pain, and bleed on the fruit which now no one will eat including me because I don't do blood. Gross! So I close the lid and in doing so, inadvertently spill the rest of lemonade in my lap so I get to spend the rest of the game wet and sticky and hungry and bleeding. Giving up on trying to salvage any amount of dignity and honor, I look up to see how the second half is going, just in time to catch an aggressively kicked pass right in my face. My daughter runs to retrieve the out-of-bounds ball and says as she prepares to throw in,"Happy Soccer Mom's Day! I love you."

Perhaps there's a reason the soccer fields don't distinguish between Mother's Day and any other game day. And why once again, I won't either.

Happy Roaring Mom's Day, no matter where you celebrate it!