Monday, July 25, 2016

RIP Rant


RIP, Gary Marshall.

Seriously? That's all you've got? For the man who brought us The Odd Couple and Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley and Mork and Mindy and The Princess Diaries and even had that part in Hocus Pocus, that's all you've got?

Come on! My childhood memories are full of him. My children's childhood memories are full of him. He brought laughter and smiles to millions of people, and all you've got is an acronym that sounds like a fart?

And what about this guy?

I suppose for Alan Rickman, maybe you have a POOP? Peace, Ovations, Obsequies, and Prayers?

For Mya Angelo, something more poetic might be called for.

We'll give her BARF. Benediction, Applause, Respect, and Fondness.

If you can't tell, I hate the RIP. Hate, hate, hate it. It's is the laziest manner of recognition ever created. You know who uses it? People who want to be the first ones on social media to acknowledge the death of some big name star. I wonder how many David Bowie RIP-ers could name more than one of his songs? What about Joan Rivers and James Garner and Robin Williams? If you enjoyed the lifetime of talent and hard work and dedication these folks shared with you, don't they deserve more than the gallant effort you put forth to type three letters?

You know what's worse? When I see social media posts where regular people post RIPs for other regular people. Especially when those RIP-ers are eagerly opening their apps to be the first. I have learned of the death of more than one acquaintance or former school mate from someone's over-zealous use of the Facebook RIP. Most often those RIPs come from other acquaintances or former school mates, not the close friends and families of the deceased. You know why? The close friends and family members are actually grieving, not rushing to FB to get social media attention for their ability to type three letters.

If you need to recognize the passing of a celebrity or loved one, how about sharing a memory? How about listing your favorite things about that person? How about asking others to share as well? Wouldn't that be a better tribute? If you can take the time to tell the social media world when you have a hacking cough or need a drink or how a driver cut you off or where your potty-training kid urinated today or what an ass your ex-spouse is, can't you take the time to offer a comment of appreciation for the dead.

In conclusion, let me ask this one thing of you. When my Maker calls me, I beg of you, please do not RIP me.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Guy Power

It's everywhere! Girl Power music, Girl Power movies. Girl Power memes and messages and mentors. As a mom of 3 daughters, I could not be happier for it.

As a mom of a son, I wonder where all the Guy Power stuff is.

My son is the youngest of my crew. The soundtrack of his childhood includes Hillary Duff, Kelly Clarkson, Avril Lavigne, and Cheetah Girls. Barbie and her Malibu house and jeep and massive wardrobe, who is employed as a CEO, a veterinarian, a teacher, an astronaut, and looks hot in a bikini, inhabited the play room. Even Blue from Blue's Clues is a girl.

I recently read one of those lists of 20 things every mom should teach her teenage daughter. It included things like "Pizza is always a good idea" and "your weight does not signify your worth". Maybe it's time someone made a list of 20 things every woman should teach her teenage son. If I made a list it might include the following.

1. Don't be afraid to open the door for her. If she gives you a dirty look because she can open her own damn door, try not to let it close on her.

2. Even though too many young ladies can't distinguish between kindness and "into her", be kind anyway. That's her problem.

3. Don't stress over the perfect Promposal that will look good on social media. If she's worth anything, she'll want to go with you just because she wants to go with you.

4. Check her Twitter before asking her out. If she airs everything to everyone (even passive aggressively), don't walk away...RUN!

5. Yes, guys are clueless (including you), but teenage girls are crazy. All of them. If you really want a girlfriend, choose your crazy.

6. It's important to hang our with your buddies without the girls. If she cries about it, let her cry. You deserve to have your own friends and your own time.

7. Regardless of the media portrayals, your muscle mass does not signify your worth.

8. Some teenage girls might fall all over themselves for attention from super athletic gym rats, but those aren't the girls you'll be happy with anyway.

9.  Confidence is attractive. Arrogance is not.

10. You don't need a girlfriend to complete you.

11. Yes, pizza is usually a good idea. So are grapefruit and carrots. Try them every now and then.

12. Life is expensive. Don't feel uncomfortable or embarrassed to discuss with your date who will pay for what. But if you invite her, be prepared to pay. If you decide to do an activity together, discuss the finances.

13. For most girls, sex = love. Don't do it unless you truly love her. Hint: You won't truly know you love her until you are willing to NOT do it for the health of your relationship. Even if she is willing, don't do it yet. You'll hurt her in ways you didn't mean to.

14. Don't kiss and tell. Just smile and make them wonder. In any case, defend her honor and your own.

15. You are enough. Just as you are. Your body, your face, your hair, your brain is all enough.

16. Guys think insulting each other is as funny as a soccer ball to the groin. Remember, a soccer ball to the groin is painful, too.

17. It is perfectly fine to appreciate beauty. And guess what else? It is perfectly fine, when you are with your buddies, to comment on a girl's fine ass and great rack and luscious legs. Don't let females fool you. We are doing the same thing regarding the guys.

18. Even though showing emotion is fine, it is also fine to "suck it up" and "be a man". Again, don't let us fool you. We like a strong man. We like to have a strong heart to fall apart on. Have you heard  "Break on Me" by Keith Urban?

19. Learn to cook.

20. In the history of the world, most of the great poets and musicians and entrepreneurs and military leaders and inventors and doctors and philosophers have been men. Don't apologize for that. They have made mistakes. So have the women in this world. But great men have done great things. Be proud to be part of that heritage.

I'm not sure this is an exhaustive list. I don't even know if it's a good list, but I did hit on some important parts. The biggest message I want young men to understand is really the same one we've been preaching to our girls. That is--don't give up your own power by believing belittling messages. Even if there is no such thing as Guy Power music or movies, create your own power. You are enough. You are perfect. You are Man, Hear you Roar. In numbers too big to ignore...

Wow. You guys really do need your own Power Music, don't you?

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Recuperating from Grandma Camp

Ten things I gained in one month of living the three-year-old dream life (aka Camp Grandma):

10. A nasty cold that his mother gave me when she dropped him off. (Thanks.)

9.  A fist-sized bruise on my butt from the giant cracked slide that I would let him go down only on my lap. (So he wouldn't get a fist-sized bruise. Duh!)

8. A wounded handed that felt like a freaking dog bite from the same Monster Slide.

7. Elbow rug burns from wrestling on my carpeted floor.

6. A ferocious ear infection from having pool water splashed directly in my ear canal. (I might never hear right again.)

5. Two steps closer to senility because half of my brain now has the Thomas the Tank Engine theme song on permanent replay. (They're two. They're four. They're six. They're eight.)

4. Five extra pounds on my Roaring Grandmom's belly because every time I bribed him with ice cream, I rewarded myself with the same.  (He doesn't share food. Ever. Unless he's eating mine.)

3. A now neurotic cat who has developed a fear of anyone under three feet tall. 

2. The need for a new mattress. (I'm sure you can guess.)

1. A full heart.

After all, none of the rest matters.

Friday, June 17, 2016

In the Zone

Meet Joan. She's the beautiful one with the got-it-all-together look in the family vacation photo. Joan is the mother of a high schooler, a middle schooler, a grade schooler, and a two-year old. Joan is a Roaring Mom. Joan is a super hero. Joan is nuts!

She doesn't look nuts, does she? She looks calm and in control. But I know that's not possible.

I know because for the last month, my apartment has been Camp Grandma to my three-year-old grandson.

I've always said God gave me good children because he knew I wouldn't know what to do with bad ones. Same goes for the grandkid. He's a good kid. Polite (especially when bribed with ice cream). Potty-trained (mostly). Cooperative (sort-of). He's three, remember? His version of all these trait is quite different from the rest of the world.

Still, I'm sure there are more than a few folks who think I might be a child abductor. In fact, one man and his three kids followed me from the playground to the park restrooms while I madhandled the banshee-screaming toddler. I was only trying to keep him from pulling down his pants and peeing on the merry-go-round, but they didn't know that.They listened at the door while I promised all kinds of candy and cookies and and Dr. Pepper, if he would only cooperate already. I endured 30 more minutes of playtime with this man's skeptical eye on me. Can you even imagine this scene with a frustrated grade schooler, an annoyed middle schooler, and an embarrassed high schooler in tow?

At one time in my life, I had four kids under the age of seven. I don't know how I did it. I really don't. Was I on autopilot? Was I daily teetering on the brink of sanity? Did I ever accomplish anything other than getting from one hour to the next?

Some things have come back to me. The necessity of opera lunch. Did you know singing during lunch makes it magically more fun to eat?  Ice cream for dinner. If you throw some fruit on it, you've covered two food groups. Bribery without guilt. I will promise anything if he will just go to sleep or put on his shoes or leave the new toilet paper roll in tact. Examine Exhibit A. He came to Camp Grandma with three Hot Wheels cars. Three.

I know for a fact life was easier when I had four under seven, and I think it's because I was in that zone--that Teflon, ten-second-rule-believing, dirty-face-tolerating, Dora the Explorer binge-watching, Super Mom cape-wearing zone. For the past decade, I've been in the eye-rolling, dirty-shin gaurd-smelling, teen-drama-dealing, never-enough-food-in-the-house mode. I can't even imagine Joan's life. She's living in all four zones at once. I bow to you, Joan. (Nice job working that insanity camouflage.)

Shout out to all parents in every Roaring Mom zone. You're crushing it today. If all you do is get through the next hour, you're right where you need to be. Even if you had to bribe yourself with ice cream to get there!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

How to Create Creative Kids and Other Life Lessons

I've told you before about how the time my daughter came home from school complaining that the only kid who understood her jokes was the class weirdie. Her sister, completely serious, said, "I thought you were the class weirdie."

It's true. My kids are kinda weird and it might sorta, kinda be my fault a little.

But maybe not entirely.
 Yes, I let them and all their friends play indoor hide-n-seek without many limitations, much to the demise of my linen closet and Christmas storage area. I also let them dress themselves--tutu over everything, kitty cat shirt under everything, and Tupperware bowl...uh, I mean improvised Buzz Lightyear Helmet...on the head everywhere.

I let them cover themselves in mud and talk to imaginary friends and dress up the cat. We wrote on the walls.The best kitchen utensils were always in the sand box.

We played soccer in the house. And sword fights. And tag.

My kids were the ones on the playground, teaching all the Catholic school kids Cheech and Chong's Sister Mary Elephant routines. They were the ones who got in trouble for chewing gum at school and when asked how their behavior was unChristlike answered, "Well, they didn't have gum when Jesus was alive." They were the ones trying to use mind power to blow up like a giant blueberry  the "stupid" teachers, just to see if it would work. (Think Willy Wonka's Veruca Salt)

But now that they are all adults, I have to admit I am not entirely to blame for their twisted, weirdie sense of humor and anything goes lifestyles. I had help--from Sesame Street.

Seriously! Did you ever notice how freaky those critters are? A giant yellow bird that carries around a teddy bear. A monster who steals everyone's cookies.  A mean grump who lives in a trash can. That two headed-thing and those other guys with honking horn noses. Then, there are these fellows:

Of all the strange things we feed into our children's minds, these guys are some of my favorites. They beat out the big purple dinosaur and his annoying whiny baby friend. They trump the colorfully dressed full-grown men who sing about fruit salad...yummy, yummy. They even surpass the dancing gumdrop-looking creatures with the TVs in their tummies who worship the giant toddler head in the sky. Those other oddities are just weird. These guys are cool.

And if you're gonna be the class weirdie, you might as well be the class weirdie cool cat. And that's that!

What's the weirdest thing you ever used to entertain your kids?

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Sounds Like Life

My son is in the next room strumming beautifully on a guitar he didn’t even know how to play this time last year. His voice joins in harmony with his friend’s as they practice for an upcoming audition. She does this wonderful, improvised thing and he stops.
“Oh yeah! That’s great.”
I can hear the smiles.
It’s the sound of joy reverberating through my home. Joy and perseverance and belief and self-doubt and trial and error and passion.
Thump. Thump. Thump. The ball beats a passionate rhythm against the wall. My family room seconds as a soccer field. This is why we can’t have nice things—because I’d rather have a soccer field in my home than nice things. The thumping grows faster and harder, then a miss, followed by an expletive. Then the rhythm starts again. Slow and steady and sure. Then faster.
It’s the sound of persistence, consistency, determination, sweat, aches, pains, skinned knees and pulled muscles. It’s the sound of missed goals and trophies not won and championships celebrated and hard fought victories.
I stand outside my daughter’s bedroom and listen to her reminisce on the phone with her friends over last night’s dance. They already regret things they didn’t say, dance moves they shouldn’t have tried, and the photo they didn’t take of the three of them while their hair and make-up was still on point. But they laugh it off. There’s still time.
My son comes up behind me and tells me not to eavesdrop, that privacy is a right. “Not in this house,” I joke. “Never has been.”
What he doesn’t realize is that I’m not eavesdropping. I’m not trying to listen in on a conversation. I’m only hearing the sound. I am breathing in the sounds of their voices and laughter and tears and lives.
There’s not much time. In eighteen months, my last two kids will have flown the coop. They will take their noises with them. They will also take with them their triumphs and sorrows and tenaciousness and doubt and faith. And my heart.

I’m not looking forward to the silence. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

I Told You So

I've often heard the parenting advice that we should never tell our children, "I told you so." I think that advice should actually be

You should never tell your children "I told you so" 
unless it's a really big freaking deal for which 
you totally deserve credit forever and all time.

That's my kind of parenting advice.

Ten years ago, I picked up my oldest daughter from another day of middle school. Another awful, sucky, aggravating day of middle school full of stupid mean kids that said stupid, mean things.

I had already tried all the nice, forgiving, Catholic school mom stuff I was supposed to say. None of it had helped. So I finally told her what I really thought.

Kate, don't worry about it. One day you are gonna be in California doing your thing and all those kids who made fun of you and made you feel unattractive or weird or not good enough are gonna be sitting on their couches in Wichita, Kansas, eating corn chips and watching some show on TV that you worked on. 

Today, I can say I TOLD YOU SO! Today, those Roaring Moms words come true. Today, in fact all this week, the productions she has been working on for months are entertaining the corn-chip eating couch potatoes!

While this post might seem like one big Roaring Mom Brag, that's not totally my intention. You all know how I feel about bragging on our kids. Yes and Always! My point, however, is more that it is perfectly fine to say "I told you so"! Sometimes our kids need to remember that we got it right. Sometimes. we need to remember that we got it right.

This morning, in that same church parking lot, I had a similar conversation with another child o' mine. I reminded him that sometimes the doors we want to open remain closed so that a better door can open later on. Had Kate been hired on with Facebook she wouldn't have still been looking for employment when the CBS job opened up. Working for Facebook would have been cool, but I'm not sure it would have been getting-paid-to-hang-out-with-Jeff Goldblum-cool!

What was cool was what happened when church started. The commentator explained the readings for the day. Simon had failed at fishing all day which left the door open for Jesus to instruct him to throw the nets again. Simon's failure had literally allowed him a chance to grow his faith. If he'd been hauling in the fish all day, he wouldn't not have experienced the opportunity for something greater.

I smiled at my son. I told you so!

If the Gospel backing up your Roaring Mom Words of Wisdom isn't enough reason to say "I told you so", surely Jeff Goldblum is.

Roar On!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Failing Forward

Fail Forward! Have you ever heard those words?

Those words make me cringe. When I hear them, I always imagine myself tripping up the stairs in front of important people at a Black Tie affair, breaking my shoes, ripping my dress, tripping the host—that kind of thing. Going forward, yes. Even going up. But it is not pretty.

Who wants that kind of embarrassment? It would take days to get past the humiliation of the fall before you even began dealing with the I’m-a-loser mentality that inevitably comes along with the failure. And have you noticed that the I’m-a-loser mentality is a mental magnet. The moment you ponder one failure, the rest come rushing at you! It can go something like this:

I forgot the grocery list, so I came home without buying toilet paper.
I also forgot to buy Valentines for my kids’ classrooms.
I didn’t work out.
I ate a donut five donuts.
I forgot to pay that credit card bill from Christmas for presents everyone has already forgotten.
I haven’t taken down Christmas and it’s Valentine’s Day.
I burned dinner.
My hungry, Valentine-less children hate me.
I am Valentine-less, too.
I ate six donuts.
I’m going to die alone. And fat.
I am going to die and I haven’t yet made my will.
And I haven’t saved for retirement.
So there is nothing to will to anyone anyway.
I have to pee and there’s no toilet paper. 
I have failed at life.

See what I mean?

A wise man (AKA, my father, the wisest man I know) sees failure differently. He says that failure is the common thread to learning and knowledge. Failure to recognize failure is the common thread of fools. Failure is the first step to beginning again. The opportunity to begin again is one of God’s gifts. He says he knows this because of the number of opportunities available. A new year, a new month, a new week, a new day, a new hour, a new minute.

If failing, the opportunity to begin again, is one of God’s gifts, who am I to want or expect something different? Even if the opportunity comes with embarrassment and humiliation? If you think about it, who wouldn’t want the opportunity to begin again? I mean, if you got it right the first time, beginning again allows you to repeat the joy of a successful experience. If you got it wrong, of course you want a do-over!

So what if your kids assuage their hunger with half a dozen donuts and you spend the last of their tiny inheritance on delivery pizza. So what if they were the only kids that year with homemade Valentines. And so what if you discover that too much aloe-infused Kleenex can clog a toilet? The next day is a do-over. The next week. The next month. The next year.

God is good. Life is good. And so, it seems, is failure.