Little Missy

At night I am forced to tell stories. One kid cares. The others humor me. The one kid, who asks for these things, REALLY cares. So I tell him. I tell him true things. I tell him fiction. But somehow they started wanting Little Missy Stories; stories about life when I was a kid. This is one I have not told them. But if I had to choose just one story to describe who I thought I was, who I really was, and who I became, it would be this one. Forgive my recent silence. It is over. I do love my readers; all 13 of you. 🙂
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My 7th grade year, just before my 13th birthday, I came to myself, shook my own hand in some sort of subconscious rite-of-passage, and stayed. That was the year I became who I still am.  But it wasn’t without its foibles.

I began and ended that school year with a blue piece of rubber that would, in my own opinion, completely and irreparably ruin me. One piece of 25-cent rubber caused more emotional anguish than any other single event I can recall. It was a spacer for my very elaborate collection of orthodontia. They put it in one September afternoon, less than a week before school pictures were to occur, and stationed it between my upper front two teeth to intentionally create a nice little David Letterman gap that horrified me to the point where I refused to open my mouth for anything I considered superfluous. I ate and talked when necessary, but joking and chatting became a thing of the past and open-mouthed smiling was just totally out of the question.

Six days after that spacer moved in, Herff Jones and company arrived to take pictures for the yearbook.

I knew this was coming.

I knew the open mouthed smile was unacceptable.

So I had practiced my alternatives and had come up with one that would definitely work. In my thinking, and as I had practiced it, it was a modern cousin of the mona lisa. Friendly. Unassuming. Timeless. It looked good to me during my rehearsals. I thought I had perfected something I’d actually be happy with. Weeks later, upon sliding the actual photograph out of the sharply crinkled cellophane, my opinion changed drastically. A nauseating shock sucker-punched my disillusions straight out the back of me, causing me to audibly gasp in my homeroom and expose the very spacer that had started this whole ordeal.

“I look like a duck,” I said, in muted disbelief.
“A what?” my friend Sharon asked me, staring at her own photo.
“A duck.” I said, disgusted. “I look like a duck.”

At that, she looked over.

“Let me see,” she took the pictures out of my hand and examined them blankly.

“I’ve never seen lips that big on a human,” I said, still talking more to myself than to her.

“Nobody likes their school pictures,” Sharon said, trying to console me without investing too much into the conversation. There was no consolation. There was no point in further discussion. She must have understood this, because she had stopped even trying.

I stared at that picture for a long time before sliding it back into the plastic that I hoped would become its tomb. My mother’s potential plans for these pictures became my only concern. If I could escape the Christmas cards, I’d be okay. To be immortalized as a duck in the middle school yearbook was bad enough.  But to have the pity of every friend my mother had, from the hat-lady-with-asthma at church to the girl from dental hygiene school 22 years ago, seemed more than I could emotionally digest. I was pitiful. My classmates were going to know it. My mother’s pen pals did not need to.

It took a good month to get used to my new look and get over the trauma of the yearbook pictures. As the season marched on and the days got shorter, so did my memory of that photo. The only thing I really knew to do was to just stop looking. So I did. I gave up mirrors. And with the time I was not spending looking at myself, I began to look around at others that I considered the “beautiful people.”  Anne Deason was one of those. I wanted to be her. And I think I must have decided that, on some level, I could be. I set out to create a Christmas list that included things related only to fashion and vanity, and determined in my mind to be as close to the beautiful people as I could. I was driven to do this. And every driven person chooses a method of accomplishing their goal.

My goal was to be with the beautiful people.
My method was yellow corduroys.
It never occurred to me that one was not the means to the other.

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Huh?

It is 2:31 a.m. on Wednesday morning after I have not posted in several days. When I did post, it was Easter Bunnies. Lots of them. Demented, evil, child-eating Easter Bunnies. Large, fluffy, pajama-wearing, Easter Bunnies with ears like grain silos. Even I was tired of all of that mundane dunderheadedness. Yeah, spell-check THAT.

What am I doing at 2:34 a.m. (can’t even believe it took 3 minutes to type that first paragraph)?

Well, I’m typing. But you knew that already.
I’m wearing a super fashionable outfit. I can only hope somebody wakes up and wants to hang out, so they can see me like this. Or maybe some night-owl neighbor will stop by.
I’m eating Millet and Flax chips, because when I find myself awake at this hour, sometimes I get ravenous. At least it isn’t Cheetos, right? Baby steps.
I’m thinking. About things that don’t matter. And about things that matter a whole lot. About May, June, July, August, September. I think I even thought of a weekend in November. But I didn’t think of October at all and I am not at all thinking of December. Well, I wasn’t until I typed that. Now that I typed that, I’m thinking about Christmas. I’m going to ask for a MacBook Pro and a St. Bernard.
All of the thinking is why I haven’t been writing. I’m not a person of simultaneous skills. I can run and listen to Robert Randolph and the Funky Bunch. Wait. I’m sure that’s not right. And I can drive and scold my irresponsible children. And I can eat Flax chips and read emails. But that’s about it. I can’t think about things and blog about other things. So I guess I just need to stop thinking. I will do that. On Friday.
Let’s see. I’m scratching a mosquito bite on my leg.
I think that’s it for what I am doing.

What am I not doing at this hour?
I’m obviously not sleeping.
I’m  not eating peanut butter, which totally would have been my choice. As much as I love the Greek-ish people that made these awesome and healthy flax chips, my first choice would have been Peter Pan on a fluffy piece of white bread. But Dr. Loseit.com has told me to lay off a few things. And though she hasn’t specifically chided me for my love of peanut butter, I can hear her voice in my head. She is calling me things I can’t type here. For sure, I can’t eat the peanut butter.
I’m not writing anything worthwhile at all. But maybe useless drivel beats the evils of the Easter Bunny? You decide.
I’m not washing the dishes that are piled up in my sink since dinner. When 7 a.m. rolls around, I’m going to wish I had.
I’m not getting any less hungry. This is going to be a problem if it persists.
I’m not drinking Diet Mtn. Dew, which is a tearful shame no matter what time of day it is.
I’m not talking to anyone. It’d be cool to find someone out there awake at this hour who wants to chat. Someone besides a thief or hooligan. Someone besides SnuggleMonkey. She freaks me out in the middle of the night.

And I’m still not sleeping. But it’s unlikely that I will accidentally fall asleep while sitting up in this chair typing. So I guess I’ll go give this another shot. I will be back, gangbusterly, on Monday, if not before. Until then, just know that people of very little brains just have to use those brains for the most pressing matters.We can’t all be geniuses, I guess. I will try to post a few things from the week before Monday. I did finally get a good Easter shot of the kids. I also got some really, really bad ones. And I managed to ignore the Easter Bunny entirely for one more year.

Happy Spring Break. Hope you are sleeping. If you aren’t, call me. I’m up.

Hoppily Ever After

I’ll be a little melancholy when this holiday is over and I have to write new material. Actually, that’s not true. I love writing. I love being irritatingly verbose. But right now, my brain is tired from decisions. Lots of decisions. What task to do first, when it looks like the house has been bombed by an intoxicated slob from the 60s. Whites or colors (that’s laundry, people, not some slur…)? What horrifyingly difficult exercise DVD to do today? Where to live? How to make a million dollars for charity.

And on and on. There’s a lot to think about. And when you throw in plastic eggs and way too much candy, well, I sometimes just sit down and become part of the furniture.

But it’s Spring Break, so how long can I allow the blahs to rule? It’s going to be a great week!

Allow me to leave you with a few more furry train wrecks. You know you love this.

I know, kid. I know. Save your money in case your insurance doesn’t cover the therapist.

I just don’t even know what to say about this one. I’m hoping the person in the costume was blind.

In a sea of dorks, there’s always at least one cool kid…

I’m calling this one “The Abominable SnowBunny.”

I hope they got a BIG discount on material, because this gray is just plain sinister.

Oh.WOW. This one will show back up in my most frightening dreams. The eyes. The EYES! And the red? It seems obvious that this stems from past victims. This is most definitely a predatory bunny.

I have more of these. Exciting, I know.

Some Easter Hoppiness

Remember all my whining and sobbing over my car air conditioning? I’ve delayed taking it in because of the $1200 compressor it was going to require. $59.95 later, some might say I suffered needlessly. Or my kids did, anyway. I suffered because I’m a nim-nim. They suffered because I forced them to. But it’s all over now. Thank you, God.

Today I went to Target with the three shortest of my children. With me were: Sister Shopping Cart Disaster, Loose Cannon, and Mr. Meltdown. Mr. Meltdown was great for two reasons: (1) He got to chow down on his favorite hot dogs, (2) I told him there was NO WAY we were buying anything for kids today. That eliminated the stress of choices. Sister Shopping Cart Disaster did not cause an actual disaster, but she about ran me over 24 times trying to push and steer. No. There is a reason 4 year olds don’t drive…anything. The Loose Cannon tried. She really did. But when it came time to throw away the open cup of marinara sauce, she just couldn’t quite get it into the trashcan. She dropped it. It exploded. And Target got a new color scheme. So did Sister Tinklebritches and myself. I have simply got to start shopping at 24 hour establishments at 3 a.m. I think it might be worth sacrificing the shut-eye.

I will leave you with a collection of Easter Bunnies from the Information Superhighway. You’ll like these.

Even the 50s had creepy Easter Bunnies…

WHAT.IN.THE.WORLD?

Something wicked this way comes…

Both of these characters are waiting on the Easter Bus…

Oh good, this one has a knife.

The parent of these children did not love them. Couldn’t have.

The illegitimate bunny child of the Easter Bunny and Chuck E. Cheese.

Paper mache at its absolute worst.

There are an awful lot of things that look just like a human tooth.

I was just chatting on Facebook with a dear friend about the Easter Bunny. Somehow I’ve managed to virtually ignore him, creepy though he is. Somehow we’ve dodged the Easter Bunny AND the Tooth Fairy.  I already explained my Easter Bunny issues. The tooth fairy thing is pure laziness on my part. I saw that the children were coming out of nowhere. I have enough math prowess to realize that four kids x a million teeth in each mouth equals 4 million teeth. And then I started thinking about Orthodontia. Well, no thanks on paying them to spit out their teeth. And no thanks on scary little unexplained critters creeping in, taking the tooth, and replacing it with a buck. And who drove up the cost of that anyway? I always got a quarter. Now it’s a dollar, and that’s if you’re a cheapskate. Did I say that ignoring the Tooth Fairy was laziness? Now that I am typing, it appears to be completely intentional. I guess I have Tooth Fairy issues also.  It’s probably a good thing I do, because the whole “losing teeth” process has been a wreck in this house from.the.beginning. The afternoon AG lost his first tooth was traumatic enough to write down. So, as shocked as you may be by this, I typed out a REALLY LONG story about it. In a smack down between the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, I wonder who would win?
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How many of you are first children? The oldest. The experiment in your parents’ search for the perfect combination of discipline, nurturing, instruction, and adventure? Well, I’m here to tell you I’m sorry. I’m sorry they messed you up. On behalf of parents everywhere, I apologize for bungling the moments that should have been sacred, for spanking when I should have hugged, for hugging when I should have spanked, for glaring when I should have laughed, and for losing things that can never be recovered. And on behalf of parents everywhere, I can tell you in all sincerity that they really did try to do it right. And here’s my story.

Several weeks ago, AG showed up with a loose tooth. It was appropriately the same tooth that first appeared in his head when he was four months old. And appropriately that tooth would exit the world as silently and mysteriously as it first appeared more than 5 years ago. This loose tooth was a matter of great pride for the boy. He wiggled it, displayed it, and spoke of it often. He was looking forward to the day when that tooth would become a breezeway to his gullet–a trophy of sorts. It didn’t seem to be progressing very quickly, so I stopped reaching into his mouth to try it out myself. Until last Wednesday. It was a crisp, November afternoon and the other two children were sleeping. A friend was doing laundry and studying inside while AG and I played ball in the back yard together. He laughed about something and I noticed his tooth was noticeably different. So I reached in and this time, the looseness was shocking. That tooth fell forward at the pressure of one finger and felt as if it would fall out in my hand. So I called my mom, who loves to pull teeth (she was the neighborhood tooth fairy in my childhood days) and scheduled a pulling for 5:15 on their way to dinner. AG was unaware of this plan. It’s just better that way with him. He’s what you might call anxious. When my parents showed up, he proudly showed them his loose tooth and attempted to go about his business. At that point, I tried my best to do a quick “wegottapullthistoothbeforeitfallsoutandweloseitoryouswallowit” speech, followed immediately by a capture-and-yank operation. Had we actually gotten the tooth on the first yank, this would have been a perfect plan. But that little puppy was more stubborn than it looked and it took four yanks to commandeer it. By the fourth pull — and mind you, we were out in the driveway — I began to glance furtively around for undercover reps for the Department of Children and Families. He cried. He bit down on a Kleenex to clot the empty space in his mouth. It was over and fine. And I walked inside with the tooth. I set it on the entry way table while I got AG and Mamasboy settled on the bed to watch a movie. AG was still sniffling a little and Mamasboy was just following after us blindly. Then, I picked up that tooth, walked into the kitchen to throw something away, and with eyes as big as a pizza pan, watched that tiny little enameled fleck of love fly out of my grasp and into the kitchen trash. It was one of those slow motion “nooooooo” kind of moments. You watch it happen in slow motion but somehow cannot interrupt or retard the speed at which it is actually happening. And then you look up in real time and say to whomever is unlucky enough to be listening, “I just threw my first child’s first tooth into a soggy can of garbage. Now that’s just bad parenting.”

The tooth was in the kitchen trash now. The friend doing laundry was looking at me from the big brown chair. Beloved, (still an infant) was asleep in her upstairs bedroom. AG and Mamasboy were blissfully unaware of this latest snag. And the phone was ringing. Ignoring all of that, I leaned over that trash can where I spent the next 90 minutes of my life. I craned my neck and strained my eyes and spotted the tiny baby tooth wedged between the empty Miracle Whip jar and the side of the trashcan. That’ll teach me to recycle. This is going to be tricky, I thought as I went in after that tooth. In retrospect, it’s easy to see that I should have tried anything but the reach-and-grab. Reach in with some duct tape and draw it out with adhesive. Go in with tweezers. Sit the trashcan aside and wait for Todd to come home. Anything. But I reached in for that tooth and that’s the last I saw of it. It slipped beyond my line of sight and took a journey into refuse that I was forced to follow. Like a homicide detective, I removed trash from that trash bag piece by piece, peeling back each layer as Melissa attempted to continue studying just a few feet away. But as the minutes passed without success, my heart rate increased, my hair became fluffier, my tone became strained, and Melissa got up and asked for a flashlight. Now there were two people combing through garbage. Oh, I think I see the tooth. No, that’s just the morning grits. OK, I think I have it. Nope. Feta cheese. Did you know that even the inside of a broken pretzel looks like a human tooth? It does. The previous night’s Beef Burgundy did not make this any more pleasant, I can assure you. (Incidentally, it was this same beef burgundy that had murdered my cell phone a couple of weeks prior to this…)

By this point, I was beginning to stress over the kids walking in on the scene or the baby waking up. I kept glancing at my watch and wondering how Bible class was going to fit into this covert operation. I now had the trash can between my knees like a full term baby. My hair was worse than anything I’ve ever seen; just an explosion of chaos. I was taking the occasional break to stand up and whisper, “you idiot” under my breath to myself. And all the removed trash was strewn out on every horizontal surface in the kitchen. All counter tops were employed in the operation and half of the kitchen table. No biggie. Just the places we prepare and eat our food. This project outlasted Melissa, who badly wanted to help but had to return to the dorms, craving a return to anything that felt remotely normal. The operation continued throughout the microwaved dinners I placed in front of the boys. What are you doing, Mama? Just looking for something important, boys. Don’t mind the dissected diapers. Don’t touch. Eat your macaroni and cheese.

At 6:55, I gave up. And with 5 minutes to work with, we all changed clothes and went to church, leaving the garbage to further collect bacteria and resigning myself to the idea that I was probably never going to see that tooth again.

Strangely enough, AG never asked to see or hold his tooth. He never asked about the tooth fairy. We decided not to even get into the whole tooth fairy thing. AG is scared of his own shadow. He’s scared of firefighters. I just didn’t think he was going to be excited about some invisible fairy sneaking in and reaching under his pillow as he slept. But a dollar appeared on his floor next to his bed, as a reward for the memory of that tooth. And that was that. All I have to show for it is a can full of rearranged trash and this blog post.

But really…who decided that we should pull teeth and then keep the mangy things in a jar by the Avon products?
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A Night Out on the Nutrition Guide

Every time I type a title for a blog, I think about capitalization. And then I think about the whole world’s view on capitalization. And then I think about what people did not learn in school. And then I shake my head. And then I type the title. Finally I move on. Next post, I will discuss how you are not supposed to begin a sentence with “and”, which I just did 4 times. But seriously. In a title or heading for something, you DO NOT capitalize those tiny little prepositions squashed into the middle of the title. So, for instance, The Sermon on the Mount would be as I just typed it. It would NOT be The Sermon On The Mount. This keeps me up at night, people. It does. Please email me if I need to take this any further. Also, talk to your preachers and power point prep guys in your churches. They could be sending people to the funny farm.

That was a crazy rant. 1000 pardons, please.

So, last night, I was out on the town (as if…) with a couple of strange girls like me.  We went to IKEA to eat and to shop. One of these girls is a wee bit OCD and was watching calories down to the tiniest of calories. She apparently had 611 calories to spare for the night. Not 610. Not 615. 611. It about blew up her Weight Loss app on her droid phone when IKEA didn’t have nutritional information readily available. And what was online was from Canada. Well, we all know you can’t trust a Canadian. If you didn’t know that, now you do. You’re welcome.

So at any rate, after eating and shopping (how many calories does it burn to control an IKEA shopping cart with two sets of swivel wheels???), we ventured to Steak ‘n Shake for dessert. Again, the Calorie Counter asked for a hard copy of a Nutrition Guide. At this question, the waitress squinted and just said, “No.” And though I didn’t say this out loud, I wanted to launch into a 15 minute monologue on why Steak ‘n Shake would never print a nutrition guide. I mean, come on. The restaurant should be called Instant Hospitalization. There was no milkshake under 700 calories. There was no dessert under 500, except for the chocolate chip cookies and the turtle thingie. I don’t eat turtles. I did order chocolate chip cookies and the lady looked at me like I had asked to see her tattoo.

So then it was time for Little Miss PDF to order. She was scrolling and counting. Counting and scrolling. Finally, after talking to herself for a few crazy moments, she said, “Oh, I can have the Small Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Milkshake! OK, I’ll have the Small Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Milkshake.” And she sighed, satisfied and triumphant. The woman met her satisfaction with bafflement and said, “We don’t have anything called that. We have the Double Dutch Chocolate Milkshake in a small…”

“Yeah, that’s not gonna work,” Little Miss PDF said. And she started scrolling again. “I’ll have a small hot fudge sundae.” Finally.

The moral of this dumb little story is:

No moral. Sorry. But IKEA is cool. And you shouldn’t capitalize prepositions. Or start a sentence with ‘and’ or ‘or’.

Or trust Canadians.

Of Saturday’s Meltdowns and Ringtones

I heard the first set of feet hit the floor on Saturday morning at 5:55 a.m. Because of the weight with which these feet struck and a strong hypothesis based upon 9 years of past history, I felt certain these feet belonged to AG. I then began to hear thumping. Then, more thumping. After that, all I could hear was the screaming of “NOOOOOOOO” inside my own head. No. NO! It’s Saturday! No! NOOOO. I mean it. No.

So, I guess it would be safe to say that I started the day grumpy. It is 75% my own fault, because I hadn’t gone to sleep before 1 a.m. I was in no way ready to smile and sing the Brownie Song after only 5 hours of sleep. But whatever. Sometimes these things happen. A Brownie Scout is a Brownie Scout always. Not just when well-rested.

Hours later, it was still only mid-morning. Todd was golfing. I was attempting to balance the breakfast chaos and get a 40-minute workout in. But while I was attempting that workout, the little elves were further destroying the family room. So at one point, I walked in to issue a “clean up” statement. I believe I said that they were to clean up the bowls and blankets. I didn’t even address the toy situation. And then,  falsely thinking I somehow had some influence, I returned to my workout.

Five minutes later, I came back in. Nothing had been touched. The TV was on. The chaos and chatter had continued. Please tell me you have had some sudden and temporary deafness so that I don’t have to trade you to a band of passing gypsies. Tell me there’s still hope. Tell me you cleaned up the bowls and blankets, but then got severely cold and hungry and had to get them back out again. I got nothing. So after some back and forth, I got mad. And I wish I could tell you it was pretty. But it wasn’t. Let’s just say that a bowl that was the Titanic of plastics broke in half. I’m sure it must have been dropped into the sink just right.

By the time Todd got home from golfing, everyone was crying. Even me. I am laughing as I type this, because for a guy who had just had a pleasant golf game, walking innocently into his home to see his family, this must have been utter carnage. Sorry, Todd. Fortunately for all of us, he is a reasonable fella and he knows how to put out fires. So he talked everyone back into sanity and then he took all four children to lunch. Bless that man.

It is time to work out a chore schedule. I’m working on that now. Handing out spurts of chores does not work and getting mad is not a punishment. We need structure, consistency, and reasonable consequences. Also, I need to get a better set of plastic bowls. Just kidding.

The whole thing wasn’t that bad. But the bowl did break. And I did cry. I was completely mad at myself for being mad at them. Because it didn’t solve anything. But the kids didn’t seem to know I was shopping for a nice quiet place to check myself in and everything went perfectly the rest of the day. Except that no one could reach me.

Later that day, Todd tried to call me. 13 times. Only once did I hear the phone. The rest of the time it was covered by my iPod, or ambient noise, or the screaming inside my head from 5:55 a.m. So when we all showed back up at the house, Todd was a little, teensy bit crabby that he hadn’t been able to locate me in quite awhile. Perhaps he was nervous that I actually would check myself into a quiet place and never return. Whatever the case, he asked to see my phone. 17 seconds later, I had a new ringtone. I will leave you with the new ringtone.

I can hear it now.
It almost kills me from fright, but I can hear it.
I deserved it.
Please only call me when you REALLY need me, because it scares me really bad.
Just kidding about not calling me.

Everything is really fine. I mean it.
Totally.Under.Control.