It’s safe to say (I think) that I came from an abnormal family. Anyone who writes a blog on the Internet as “Your Aunt Becky” is not exactly someone who you’d hold up as the pinnacle of normal.
My parents, as white-collar hippies didn’t exactly promote the idea of normalcy as something to strive for.
You want to shave half your head and dye your scalp purple? Go for it!
You want to shave your legs in vertical stripes and wear mini-skirts? Why not?
Want to get your belly button pierced at age 14 by some guy in the back of a music store with instruments that were probably NOT sterilized? WHY NOT?
They did draw the line at both tattoos and visible body piercing, for which I am eternally grateful. While wearing an eyebrow ring through the hallowed halls of my high school may have made me stand out from the crowd, ten years later, that pesky hole would drive me bonkers.
Being quirky as an adult is kinda awesome. It means that people who meet you after reading your blog think that you’ll probably de-pants them while eating a hot dog, humping their now-naked leg, while yelling, “EYE OF THE TIGER BABY!” Imagine their surprise when you do neither.
My middle son, Alex, he’s always been a character. He’s the guy who you’ll find hanging out at frat parties, double-fisting cheap keg beer while breaking furniture just to make you laugh. He’s a non-coke addicted Chris Farley in toddler form. At least, I HOPE he’s not addicted to coke – he’s been told “no recreational drugs until he’s twelve,” but you know kids these days.
Anyway. Alex is the epitome of different – he’s quirky and charming.
His Halloween costume for three years running now is a butterfly costume. Why? Because the kid loves butterflies, and why the fuck not?
(no, the wings are not some weird PR stunt – the kid just likes butterflies, and why the fuck not? They’re fucking awesome.)
He’s the first in line to get his nails painted – fingers and toes – and while he’s as rough and tumble as little boys can get, he’s happily in touch with his exuberant side.
Who the shit doesn’t love silver fingernails?
This Friday, on our weekly pilgrimage to The Target, I strong-armed my daughter into picking up some new underwear (she potty trained herself, which just figures). She, being related to me and somehow sensing that my very first training bra was a Wonder Women bra, gravitated toward not Dora. Not Diego. No. BATMAN.
(I’d totally wear Batman undies if I could find ‘em in my size.)
While we were in the undies aisle, I grabbed a couple more packs of undies, including two packs of My Little Pony undies – one for her, one for her brother. I *knew* he’d get a kick out of them.
And he did.
But Sunday morning, he wandered over to me, and asked me in the very serious way in which a five-year old who thinks a lot can, “Mommy, will you kill me if I wear girls underwear?”
My heart dropped a little bit.
I wrapped him in my arms, and said, “No, baby, you wear what you want to wear – just look at your sister!” She stood next to him, adjusting the crotch on her Batman skivvies, the flap that normally covers the twig and crackle-berries sadly vacant, and smiled.
“Alex,” she said. “I love your My Little Ponies underwear.”
And they scampered off, hand in hand, and I sat watching them, hoping the rest of the world will be as kind.
When I moved out to the suburbs back in aught seven (or was it aught six?), I didn’t expect that I’d blend right in. While I do live in the area in which I was raised, being an adult is much different than being a child. Mainly because you have to remember to take out the recycling bins every Tuesday, and who can remember THAT shit?
(answer: The Daver)
I was a young mother. Not like Teen Mom style, but birth-control-fail-whale and happy-twenty-first-enjoy-your-bottle-of-baby-formula, kind of young. In some parts of the country, having a baby at twenty-one is more normal than it is here in Saint Charles, IL (NOT MO). I’ve never been looked down on, per se (unless the person in question was taller than I), but I’m definitely the odd one out when I take my kid to Jr. High orientation, and not just because I’m wearing a shirt that says “HOORAY BEER” on it.
So the house in the suburbs, that seemed pretty okay with me. I mean, it beat Oak (no) Parking, which is so beyond liberal that me and my boring biological child (not a baby I adopted from some exotic country) well, we were breeders. I was never gonna make it there as a parent.
But here in St. Charles, well, people here are NICE. Within five minutes of moving in, two sets of my neighbors had brought over brownies and cookies for us to eat. It was incredible, considering that, in my condo, the last thing I’d gotten on my doorstep was a bag of dogshit.
My neighborhood is so overrun with kids that when mine go out to play, I can barely identify them in the swarming masses of swirling kids clamoring for money for the ice cream man. It’s fucking great. No, seriously, it is.
Until I go and fuck shit up.
Now when I moved in to my house, I hadn’t realized how piss-poor the landscaping job was. It was like the original owners hired landscapers and every owner since just sorta threw up their hands and decided that rather than “maintain the bushes,*” they’d just wallpaper the bathrooms in every possible fug ass pattern. I imagine it went like this:
Old Owner #1: “Man, those bushes need to be trimmed.”
Old Owner #2: “I’m thinking a three swatch pattern for the bathroom. The room’s only 4×2 – that should make the three patterns POP!”
Old Owner #1: “But the shrubbery must be maintained! We cannot see out of the windows!”
Old Owner #2: “You’re right! We should put a faux wood toilet seat on, too!”
Old Owner #1: “But! We look like recluses!”
Old Owner #2: “What do you think of an angel theme?”
It was February of Aught Six when we moved in and I didn’t know anything about the shrubbery except that there were a number of fake flower beds planted in the front of the house. Oh, and the old owners had been kind enough to leave us a hanging basket of fake flowers that looked like it had come over on the Mayflower.
It took walking into my backyard after the snow melted to note that there was, in fact, two gaping holes in the lawn as well as a number of bushes so overgrown I wouldn’t be surprised if we were on the FBI’s watch list.
“The Serial Killer Next Door,” tonight on Fox News Chicago.
(please ensure, Pranksters, that you find the picture of me with a chain saw to accompany that particular news segment. OH! And I want Tori Spelling to play me in my Lifetime Original Movie.)
I applied this bizarre mix of shredded paper and grass seed to the gigantic spots on the lawn, and oddly, grass grew. Apparently, you grow grass by putting newspaper on it. Perhaps print media ISN’T dead!
But the shrubbery? That was a different ballgame. Two years, two busted ankles, a couple of trips to the Serial Killer Section of the hardware store, and eventually, all of the fug ass evergreens were replaced by daintier azaleas and rhododendrons. Flower beds with REAL FLOWERS were planted and sometimes? They even LIVED.
The problem started here:
I bought Mark Zuckerberg.
Yeah, I know, he’s not the ultimate in tacky and he and I aren’t speaking terms because HELLO, he had a wedding and didn’t invite me. HOW DARE YOU, MARK ZUCKERBERG, HOW DARE YOU?
Once I bought Mark Zuckerberg, I realized he needed some friends. Sure, you can’t have a million friends without making some enemies, but I suspect Mark Zuckerberg has very FEW friends.
I introduce to you, The Bros Winkelvoss, or, as I like to call them, The Winkelvii:
Now you may be saying, THAT’S FLAMINGO ABUSE, or, if you’re my mother, “I raised you better than that.”
But what makes these flamingos even awesomer? THEY’RE SOLAR POWERED.
Yes, that’s right – I have light-up flamingos that I named after the ALMOST Founders of The Facebook.
I decided that this wouldn’t do. It simply wouldn’t do. It needed MORE.
It needed THIS:
I’m thinking these may be Tom from MySpace (that dude was EVERYONE’S friend), Justin Timberlake from Napster, and the guy who put together Friendster.
Who doesn’t want a prop-filled backyard filled with Internet People?
Jimmy Wales – you and your eyes that watch me wherever I go, silently judging me for looking up “Why is orange a color and a fruit” on Wikipedia – You’re NEXT.
You’ve been warned.
Edited to add: Here is the link to where you, too, can purchase Zombie Gnomes!
P.S. The flamingo one is next.
I’d just sat down to build my 105 floor on Tiny Tower, which I’d planned to name a jaunty “Cyber Sex,” when my kids got home from their grandmother’s. A couple of times a week, they visit my mom’s house, where they happily can eat cereal from plates and annoy my parents with their incessant chattering while I sit at home in my underwear, playing Tiny Tower and watching videos of dancing snails.
My eldest son burst into the house, a whirlwind of knees and elbows, and clomped out to the family room, where I was sitting on my iPad playing a pixelated game and pretending that I wasn’t as lame as, well, I am.
“MOM,” he yelled. “WE HAVE TO GO TO SCHOOL NOW.”
Um. I’m not wearing pants.
“Why?” I asked, cautiously. There’s something in that child that turns every minor request into an earth-shattering conquest – like we were going to have to climb a mountain, drink our own urine to stay warm, and nosh upon whomever was not up to the challenge in order to get to his elementary school.
“IT’S MY SOLO TONIGHT!” he nearly took my face off with his screams.
Aunt Becky say wha??
That was the first I’d heard of a “solo” a “concert” or a “trip to school after hours.” I try to be up-to-date on all things kids-related, but this child, well, he’s as organized as a, well, okay, he’s not very organized. We’re working on it.
(and by “working on it,” I mean that when he hands me a stack of ancient papers for events we’ve already missed, by hair falls out)
The kid was SOL – Alex has an ear infection, Dave’s out of town, and I, well, I’ve had a migraine that makes me wish I could plunk out my eyeballs with a spoon just to stop them from quivering unpleasantly. The Guy On My Couch was going to have to take over for me for the night – I couldn’t send him to school with the kid, much as I wanted to.
“Sorry, kiddo, but we’re going to have to skip it,” I replied, and before I could continue to explain myself – inserting neatly an object lesson in telling people what you need them to do BEFORE you demand that they drop everything and do it for you – he began to scream.
“BUT MOM, THEY’RE COUNTING ON ME!” The teeth gnashing had begun.
“Ben,” I replied. “We have 14 minutes to get you dressed and ready to leave the house. Do you even know where this concert is?”
“NO,” he said, again yelling my face off. “BUT I GOTTA BE THERE, MOM. I GOTTA.”
The maternal guilt began flowing freely, dripping from both my eyes and ears. I knew it was a lesson he had to learn – had I been given a couple hours to plan, I’d have been able to find someone to take the kid, but with 14 minutes to go? I was fucked.
And OMFWTFBBQ the guilt.
Even now, well after the fact, I’m stewing in a nice puddle of maternal guilt. I WANTED the kid to get there – I wanted to SEE him play his solo. A GOOD mother would’ve made sure her kid got there and I couldn’t do it, therefore, I was clearly NOT a good mother.
To make a long, drawn out, histrionic conversation short, we didn’t go. When I stop feeling like shit about this, I’ll let you know.
I sent his teacher an email, explaining that I was very sorry, that we were all sick, and no one was around to help with Ben’s siblings. The guilt oozed from my fingertips as I wrote it.
After I hit send (carefully removing links to my blog from the bottom of my email signature), the guilt flooded me. I had to watch some Prison Break just to remind myself that I’m not THAT much of a failure. In hindsight, I should’ve watched Jersey Shore – Michael Scofield would’ve made an elaborate plan including both tattoos, the sun’s gravitational pull, and a single red Twizzler to make sure the kid made his solo WITHOUT being taken out by The Company.
This morning, I awoke to check my email to find she’d written me back, wishing to talk about my son’s future in music with me.
When I stop panicking, I’ll let you know.
I’m a grown-ass woman, and I’m STILL afraid to talk to a teacher about my son’s organizational problems.
If you need me, I’ll be under the bed, sneezing up cat hair and looking for my missing whore pants.