Because it sure is surreal sometimes

Because it sure is surreal sometimes

Thursday, March 31, 2011

My favorite superhero: Scenario Man

I can’t get enough of messing with my kids. It makes me feel better. I get a little zing of satisfaction when I say or do something that startles them out of their zombie-like trance while watching iCarly, or puts them in their place to just the right degree in front of people. I don’t embarrass them, or at least, they aren’t aware they should be embarrassed and that makes it both o.k. and extremely funny (to me).

Take my 13-year old son. There aren’t enough hours in the day to take advantage of all the opportunities he hands me to get a laugh at his expense, and therefore, feel younger, less marginalized and more in control of my universe. Most of these situations are due to the fact that my son is actually the superhero I like to call, Scenario Man. Like Clark Kent, he switches at a moment’s notice, and the trigger is always the same: what if?

Recently, I had to check my son out of school early for an orthodontist appointment. It was the middle of the day, during lunch, and he was back at school without even missing a class. The next day, we decided to take off a little early to get some summer clothes, which means driving for an hour to the nearest community that has stores that don’t have ‘mart’ in their name. Since the last class of the day for him is study hall, I told him I’d pick him up just before that class started, at 2:15. I gave him a generic note that I scribbled while driving in the car line in front of his school. It read:

“Please excuse Jackson from school at 2:15.”

He wasn’t ok with that, for the same reason he’s not ok with things like hairy spiders in the shower, stains on his sweatshirt (the white one that he insisted on owning), or a loose bracket on his braces: He is Scenario Man.

“What if it bites me?”

“You’ll live.”

“What if it’s a Brown Recluse?”

“The hospital is three minutes away.”

“What if someone is standing close enough to me to see the stain on my sweatshirt?”

“They’ll think you’re a 13-year old boy.”

“What if the bracket gets worse over the weekend?”

“We’ll go on Monday.”

“What if I have to keep my braces on for more months because the bracket’s broken?”

“I’ll kill the orthodontist until he’s dead.”

These conversations always end with one of two responses from my son: “Ok” if he doesn’t realize I’m joking, or “Mom! Stop!” if he’s finally had it up to here with my nonsense. Either way, I’m laughing.

On this particular day, Scenario Man reared his precious head in a way that drove me to take ultimate action. We had the shopping day all planned out, until this:

“What if it’s too early?”

“What are you talking about?”

“What if it’s too early to buy shorts and I have a growth spurt and grow out of them by July.”

In all honesty, I’m exhausted just writing about this. I simply can’t figure out how, with all the really important things I do in an average day, like four loads of laundry, cooking dinner, picking up, dropping off, picking up, dropping off, picking up, blowing my brains out, dropping off and a few hours of actual work I get paid to do, I have to expend oxygen explaining things like this to my son.

I adopted my best Dramatic TV Narrator voice for this one:

“If you grow out of them, we will go in search of more shorts. Nothing, I repeat, nothing, will keep us from our quest. We will find more shorts that fit you, and we will buy them with the dollars in my purse from the nice lady or gentleman behind the counter of the store where we find them. Then, we will walk back to the car, and - "

“Mom! Stop! I know what you are talking about!”

“Don’t worry,” I say, resuming my mom persona. “We’ll find shorts today that have a little room to grow. Okay?”


The reason for this particular “what if” scenario is because my son is thoughtful. He feels bad that I have to spend money. Again, I’m not exactly sure how he got every single one of the marbles on this one and my daughter is completely lacking:

“Where is your backpack?”

“I don’t know. I think I lost it.”

“Don’t you think you better find it?”

“We can just buy another one.”

So, my son was not satisfied with the note excusing him at 2:15. Remember, we’re in the car line. There wasn’t much time to discuss this. A bus was behind me; the bell was about to ring.

“What if the office lady wants to know why I’m leaving school early?”

“It’s not her business.”

“But Mom, what if she asks me? Should I tell her I have a doctor appointment?”

“Yes. Tell her you have a doctor appointment.”

“What if she asks me what doctor?” At this point, he was getting out of the car. I had no time for this, and neither did the bus full of kids behind me. He was about to slam the door.

“Tell her you have a cyst on your ovary.”

“Ok. Bye mom.”

“Bye, honey,” I said, blowing him a kiss and trying to wipe the grin off my face.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Premature Articulation

Why is it the older I get, the more frequently I hear the sound of my own voice saying something completely inappropriate? What exactly is happening to me? Is this a case of becoming less sensitive to the needs of others, and losing my ability to filter out the socially unacceptable thoughts in my mind before they can bounce off my tongue and infect perfectly normal conversations? Or is this a special talent I’ve always had, but never noticed?  Maybe it’s just a case of everyone else being too uptight.

I’m going with the last one.

I think the rest of the world, or at least people who bump into me in the grocery store, or sit with me at the dinner table, need to relax. They should also stop saying things like, “Oh my god, Mom! I can’t believe you just said that!” I mean, big deal, so I said the word “boner” during a conversation the other night. So what if it was during dinner at Nona and Grandpa’s house. Who cares if my daughter’s 10-year old friend was present, and that she happens to be the daughter of a local law enforcement official who prosecutes people for a living? What’s he going to do, arrest me? Am I doing it again right now?

All I did was respond to something my own mother said. She commented on the last blog I wrote and asked me a question. I answered her. Is there another way of saying it? Apparently, because my 13-year old son sitting next to me hit me with this gem:

“Mom, use the other word. The one the doctor uses.”

“What are you talking about?”

“The word that starts with ‘er’”

“Are you kidding me? Your doctor asks you about that?”

Sidenote: What the hell goes on in those appointments that I’m no longer interested in attending, let alone asked to? I guess that’s why I’m off the invite list and instead remain in the waiting room reading the latest “Ladies Horrifying Journal” article about the top ten ways to inject some spice into your pork roast and your marriage.

My husband was somewhat alarmed at what I said; my dad, mom and aunt were laughing, as was I. My daughter looked amused and rolled her eyes at me. The 10-year old guest? Well, I guess my son and husband win this one, because she leaned over and asked my daughter what a boner was.

I won’t repeat the rest of the conversation because it wasn’t really that interesting, and because I don’t want to incriminate myself. I know my rights. Suffice to say I instructed my daughter to let her friend's parents explain it to her some day in the distant future when I can honestly say, “I said what?”

As I flip through my mental rolodex, I can recall a few other things I’ve said over the years that probably could be filed under “What did you just say?” because that’s how people responded to them. Here they are:

Top Four Things I’ve Said That I Don’t Regret But That Some People Think Were Awful

1.      1.“Hi, how have you been? Did you ever f---k my husband?” (at a cocktail party. It was funny. Really.)

2.      “I don’t care what she has between her legs; someone, somewhere is sick of her crap.” (at a Bunko party with women I barely knew, in hopes of never being invited back. But that’s another story – how I threw the Bunko game, and I use the term loosely, in order to avoid ever being asked to “sub” again.)

3.       "God, I am such a retard!” (again, at a cocktail party, during polite conversation with a small group of women, one of whom has a child with Down’s Syndrome.)

4.      “Every day?” (responding to a freshman student who seemed to never be able to understand one word I said. On this particular day, I was super annoyed at her inability to comprehend my instructions and she told me that she hit her head during P.E.)

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got.

Perhaps the list is longer in other people’s minds. To that, I say, “I’m taking the 5th.”

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Douches and Boners and Butts, Oh My!

With each passing day, conversations with my children grow more mature. At ten, ten, twelve and thirteen years of age, we can now chat about grown up stuff, like mortgages, car payments, and periods. Yet, at the same time, conversations can take a sharp left turn toward more juvenile themes at the drop of a hat. Like being caught in a tug-of-war between adolescence and childhood, my kids are currently armed with just enough knowledge to be dangerously funny when overheard discussing things like tampons, and downright hilarious when they purposely include me in their pre-pubescent chat-chit.

They’re curious, but they don’t want to ask. When they do ask, they fidget and squirm and smile, as if I’m pulling out life-sized Mr. and Mrs. Puberty blow-up dolls. To be fair, I am the mom who drew pictures for my daughters when we had the birds and bees talk about four years ago. Here’s an excerpt from the official transcript:

“Hang on. Why are there three holes? What’s that one?”

End of excerpt.

The best part about my kids getting to the age where we not only have serious, forthright conversations about bodily functions is that we can purposely joke about them.

After all, who can resist a good boner joke now and then? Not me, and apparently, not my 13-year old son. In the parking lot of the grocery store the other day, a man waiting outside the store had some interesting looking trousers on…and by the looks of things, he was happy to see whatever it was he was staring at off in the distance. Because I’m losing my ability to filter my verbal mutterings by the day, I made the first move.

“Oh my god!” I blurted out, glancing at the guy as we approached and cruised by slowly (parking lot, remember?) My son shot a look at me and then switched his glance to the direction I was looking. Just in case you’re wondering, this happened instantaneously: my look, my gasp, my son’s look, and my son’s comment:

“Holy crap! You could hang a coat hanger on that!”

There it was – a boner joke, and my beautiful, young, innocent boy said it. Not only that, it was funny and made me laugh.  

Then, there are the girls.

Those little women have a way of getting information out of me, especially the youngest two.

Walking in through the garage door recently, I had just started to kick my shoes into the appropriate shoe box, and they were on me. One had me around the waist and the other had a fistful of my jacket up at the scruff of my neck. They pressed me up against the couch, and bent me over backward just enough to disarm me of the power of leverage.

“Okay, lady, you better tell us right now what that deuce thing was!”

“What are you guys doing? What is going on??”


“What are you two nut bombs talking about?”

“The thing that Robbie said at school today that Jackson was telling you about that his older sister told him about.”

Somehow, I followed that. But, that’s another blog.

“Are you talking about ‘douches’?”

“We don’t know! Are we?!”

“Oh my god. Are you kidding me?!” I was laughing so hard I was helpless. I was also in a stranglehold.

Keep in mind, these girls are ten. I’m not a short woman. They had me bent over the couch in an extremely uncomfortable position. Of all people, I am generally the one who sees sneak attacks from fifty paces. At this point, I would have made any concessions necessary to free myself from the frenzied grip of the ten-year old version of the Spanish Inquisition.

I had to think quickly. Do I really want to tell them this information?  As much as I enjoy them asking for information that when disclosed, makes them almost pee their pants and then run away from me, I wasn’t sure they were ready for this. I geared up for my explanation, though to be perfectly honest, I was going to have to wing it, if you know what I mean.

At that moment, my thirteen year old son walked in the room. He wanted to know what was going on.

“Mom’s going to tell us what deuces are RIGHT NOW!”

If they could not even pronounce it, were they old enough to know what it was? Keep in mind, these are the two very same girls who once found a tampon in the glove box of my car and when one asked what it was, the other said, “It’s those things you put up your butt.”

An hour earlier, when my son had told me the “deuces” story, he asked me the same question, but it went like this:

“Mom, what’s a douche bag?”

“Remember the guy who lived next door to us on Oak Street?”


“Douche bag.”

“No, Mom, I mean what is it really?”

“Dear god are you kidding me? You are going to regret this.”

“I want to know. Christine Collins said her little brother Robbie was running around her house saying it and so his mom hauled him to the grocery store and showed him what it was and he freaked out.”

“Okay, it’s a slang term for a slime ball, derived from the French word, ‘douche.’”

“Mom! Stop it! What is a douche?!”

That’s when we went behind closed doors. Apparently, that’s also when the ten-year old goon squad started whispering and plotting.

I kept it short and simple because frankly, I didn’t know what the hell I was talking about.

The second I revealed the physical location of the body part associated with douches, thirteen year old boy squirmed, then turned and faced the extremely interesting closet door for a close inspection until I was finished.

“Got it.”

“You asked.”

Back to the mugging.

When the boy entered the room and saw me getting clobbered, I decided to do the mature thing and evade and get this over with. There was no way I was going to contribute to their long list of things to have nightmares about. Plus, they were hurting my shoulder.

“Jackson, the girls want to know what a boner is.” It was the girls who spoke next, in no uncertain terms:

“Oh my god, Mom! Gross!!”

I knew I almost had them, meaning they were on the edge of running away screaming for the sanctity of their bedrooms, putting this hideous, yet hysterical conversation that I was actually highly amused by to an appropriate end.

“Aha! So you know what a boner is??” I snapped, turning the tables on them.

“We’re outta here!”

“Yeah, we’re outta here!”

“I’m glad we had this talk,” I sang cheerily as they sped off like little roadrunners.