Category: Really?!

Really?!

Applause Before 8 A.M.

Applause Before 8 A.M.

In order to tell you what I really want to tell you, I have to give you a little insight into what a Frat House Morning looks like on a school day.

In a nutshell, I get six kids to four different schools every school day, with a toddler in tow. While I only drive two of them to two different schools, I do make sure everyone is awake, fed, and presentable before they leave for the bus stop or the Frat Cab, whichever is their mode of transportation to school.

Every single school morning, at 7:30, I drive Jack to his elementary school, which is about six blocks from our house. I realize we could walk, but, if we did, I wouldn’t be back home in time to drive the next Frat Boy to his school, so we drive.

Every single morning, Jack gets out of the van, I watch him walk into the school, and I pull away to circumnavigate the other half of the rectangle of roads that will take me back home.

And every single morning, the same dad rides my bumper for three blocks until I make my left turn.

(OK, it isn’t every morning. That is to say, he isn’t necessarily riding my back bumper every morning, but he’s always tailing someone within my view way too closely. We’re all there at the same time driving the same cars in the same direction, every school morning, so he’s hard to miss.)

Bear in mind, every road within a 100-mile radius of my home is an Ice Rink of Death right now and has been for months. We all need to be careful, especially when there are kids approaching from every direction, on foot, trying to get to school.

This morning, I had to wait for oncoming traffic before I could make my left turn and escape the chaos that is The Morning Drop-Off. Bumper Boy (yes, he’s been so annoying for so long that he has earned a nickname) had been on me for his usual three blocks, following so closely that I couldn’t even see his headlights in my rear-view mirror. I had actually watched the front end of his SUV dip three times when he rode up so closely that he had to slam on his breaks to avoid hitting me (quickly followed by immediately riding right up my back bumper again. Can you say, “unteachable?”).

Then something amazing happened.

Something astonishing.

In the words of a mom who saw it and texted me afterwards, “That was beautiful!”

Right in the middle of the stand-still traffic, I put the Frat Cab into park and got out.

Bumber Boy and I were going to have a chat. I had had Enough.

I didn’t have far to walk as he was, as usual, right on my rear bumper. And none of the traffic was moving anyway. As I approached his window, he cracked it a bit.

Mustering all of the patience that a mother of seven could possibly contain, I calmly, firmly, as-nicely-as-can-be-done-through-gritted-teeth said,

“You’re following way too closely. You do it here, in front of a school, to everyoneevery morning. Stop. It.”

I turned around, walked back to The Frat Cab, continued to wait for the traffic to move so I could make my left turn, and finally made my exit.

Bumper Boy didn’t move until I was gone.

As I made that left turn, the kind woman who left a gap so I could go (a mom whose son goes to school with mine) put her window down and applauded.

The man in the car behind her did the same.

Before I got home, I had three texts from parents and two from teachers, all of whom were in that tangle of traffic with me, and all of whom have dealt with this man’s apparent lack of depth perception since August when the school year began.

I wonder what the morning drop-off will be like tomorrow.

 

Gay Grocery Cart Traffic Jam

Gay Grocery Cart Traffic Jam

The atmosphere of the place was weighing down on me, shrinking me further than I had already shrunken myself in order to navigate through the congestion.

My overloaded burden was becoming difficult to convey from place to place.

And the mass of humanity that packed the huge building to capacity wanted, down to each single one, to be anywhere but there.

It was Saturday, and I was at the grocery store.

I try to make the best of having to do the grocery shopping. If I go alone, I pop in my earbuds and listen to music, a lecture, or a podcast; I’m careful to keep the volume low so I can easily hear those around me so as not to mistakenly be rude. If I have any of the older kids with me, we split up the list to make the trip quicker. If it’s just Liam and me, I laugh at his hilarious pride at being able to sit up in the seat of the cart and make strangers laugh.

But this was Saturday. In the grocery store. With very, very cranky people. AND a snowstorm was apparently coming, which set off the usual “Oh no! Snowpocalypse is nigh! We must stockpile everything IMMEDIATELY!!” reaction around these parts.

Trying to balance making only one grocery trip a week with keeping The Frat Boys in food is a sticky business (you can read that as a polite way of saying, “The cart was damn full”). The worst part of the little scenario I’m about to convey to you, dear reader, is that I only had to get one more thing. One more necessary item stood between me and my freedom from the miasma of rushing crankiness that permeated the environment.

Goldfish.

Pepperidge Farm Goldfish are a staple in this Frat House. Not for myself or for Mike, but all of the Borg eat them like they are manna from the gods. And how can I argue with that, really? I imagine that eating Goldfish in bulk is better than ingesting potato chips or microwave popcorn at the same alarming rate, so I don’t worry too much. I pick my battles, and Goldfish just isn’t one of them.

Turning into the aisle where this Holy Grail of Snack Foods was stored brought me face-to-face with a veritable sea of people. And no one was moving. It was The Grocery Cart Traffic Jam of the Century.

I knew someone had turned in right behind me; I could feel it with that crazy sense we all get when someone is in our personal space, even if they are behind you and you can’t see them. Well, not someone, actually, but the front end of their cart.

(Allow me to interject that, if I had needed to get anything else, I would’ve gotten out of that aisle with impressive haste and come back when the traffic had cleared. I’m short. People tend to simply not see me. I had already been run into several times during this particular trip to Grocery Hell, and it isn’t because I move too slowly. My husband is 6’7″, has incredibly long legs, and still struggles to keep up with me when we shop together. I’m not messing around; I’m on a mission to get in, get out, and get on with my life.)

The cart behind me bumped my rear bumper once (yes, it hit me in the ass). I wasn’t surprised as it was so incredibly crowded, but I also couldn’t move forward without bumping into the woman in front of me, causing her to bump the gentleman in front of her, thereby causing a chain reaction of cart-bumped asses a mile long. I stood as close to my cart as I could, and then received another bump, this time with some meaning behind it.

Ok, I thought. Here we go. I just want to get my Goldfish and go home.

I turned part-way around to get a tiny peek at the offending ass-bumper (only part-way around because I hate confrontation and because his cart was so close to me that I would’ve had to climb into it to turn ALL the way around). He was an older man, with an older woman, and he looked like he had been grumpy since Nixon was in office. He proficiently exuded a “Leave me the hell alone” vibe with an intensity that was rather startling.

As I glimpsed at him, he bumped me in the hip with his cart, again, and then managed a feat only a select few have ever accomplished: he said something that left me (momentarily) speechless.

“Would you move, you dyke?”



… Wha?

Yep.

My brain finally came back from the Land Of I-Can’t-Believe-You-Just-Said-That-You-Bigoted-Fool, and I simply reacted.

He didn’t like my reaction.

If looks could kill, Mike would’ve been saying my eulogy over a headstone that read, “She shouldn’t have laughed at the rude dude in the grocery store.”

I couldn’t help it. I suppose it’s ok not to have a filter in some situations, especially if your lack of a filter causes you to bubble over in giggles. And this situation was just beyond stupid.

The non-hysterical part of my mind wanted to inform him that, not only labeling any group of people, but then using that label in a derogatory fashion, was ridiculous, asinine, and made him look like an uneducated idiot. I wanted to take the time to explain to him that the fact he was raised in a different time was no excuse for bigotry toward anyone, ever. I wanted him to understand that his looking at the length (or lack thereof, in this case) of someone’s hair and judging their sexual preferences really spoke to how far in the gutter his mind was. But, clearly, these concepts that are simple common sense and decency to me would’ve been unrecognizable to him even if they were to march up to him and lick him on the face.

The pissed-off part of my mind wanted to thank him for his insight into my psyche, which he must’ve gotten a good look at while he was pushing me with his cart like a caveman. Oh, I would’ve loved to have unloaded on him about my husband and seven boys.

But tantamount to all of that, I wanted him to learn a lesson. ANY lesson.

I looked him right in the eye and said, “Thank you. You couldn’t have paid me a higher compliment.”

Turning such a deep crimson color in anger can’t be good for anyone’s health.

He was stuck behind me until traffic finally began to crawl again, and he had to go around me while I fetched the long-awaited Goldfish.

As he passed by, he blessed me with a good, hard glare.

In return, I blew him a kiss, with a grin & sly wink to boot.

“Thanks again,” I said. “You made my day!”

The War on Skinny

The War on Skinny

Once upon a time, I worked in a bookstore, a job that I enjoyed for the interactions with people, both with co-workers and customers. Once upon a time, I was also much skinnier than I am now. I had been through a traumatic time, and my body reacted as it always does in times of stress: I lost weight that I really couldn’t afford to lose. Allow me to draw a mental picture for you. I am just over five feet tall. I’ve always been rather small, just like my mom. Customers looking for me in the bookstore would always describe me to co-workers with a string of words that invariably began with “short,” “skinny,” or, most often, “tiny.” I am made the way I am made, and I can’t help that any more than anyone else on the planet. I have littleness just like I have hazel eyes and pale skin.

One afternoon a mother-daughter duo came to the store looking for diet and weight loss books. Several of us were working at the customer service counter, but just two of us happened to be at the counter at the time. They approached me, making comments to each other under their breath that I could see but couldn’t hear. My co-worker was behind me, on the phone with a customer. When I asked what I could help them find, they tartly replied, “We’ll wait for HER,” and began to turn their backs to me. When I stated that if they wanted to wait for my co-worker, that was fine, but she was on the phone and may be a little while, I received an even colder response.

“I’m not having some skinny little bitch take me to the diet books. We’ll wait.”

I was dumbfounded. Gobsmacked. I have waited on probably thousands of customers in that store, and never once judged whether or not I would help someone based on ANYTHING — their appearance, race, gender, ANYTHING. I was not, however, being paid to be scrutinized and judged for the way I was made, in utero, thirty-something years ago.

This little incident begs the question: If I were obese and they wouldn’t let me wait on them, would that be acceptable? Their attitudes seemed to belie a belief that it was perfectly fine to be rude because I was skinny. In their eyes, I presumably had no feelings to hurt; they had been sucked out with my soul when I sold it to be tiny, apparently.

How was my being little hurting them? I am a Pollyanna at heart, and probably always will be. I was raised to treat others as I wish to be treated, and I would NEVER comment on someone else’s weight. Hell, I’d have a hard time commenting on someone else’s ANYTHING, even if they asked.

People are made the way they are made. Some are tiny, some are large, some are blonde or brunette. Some are very tall, some are diminutive. Some are homosexual, some are heterosexual, some are bisexual. There’s a lot to be said, and not in a positive way, for society’s treatment of those who are on the bigger side (Kevin Smith’s Too Fat To Fly incident is just one of thousands), and I’ve never understood it. Life’s too damn short to waste time cutting other people down for the way they are made.

While mulling the situation over, my inner Pollyanna made a comeback. Maybe they really were that uncomfortable with me and my smallness. In what situations could I fathom myself being choosy about who helped me find information? I’m a fairly open book. I would ask a male employee to help me find the Erotica section without blinking an eye. Likewise the female health section. But that’s me; what works for me doesn’t have to work for others.

In the end, I did what I always do when met with uncomfortable situations — I am a product of my parents, after all. Kill ’em with kindness, always. This woman was showing her daughter that weight discrimination was perfectly acceptable, as long as it was directed at The Slenders of the world, so I showed her that it wouldn’t affect me. I let my co-worker know that they were waiting, looked at them both, gave my biggest smile, and took my narrow arse elsewhere.

Pleased to be of service, ladies.

The Best

The Best

I get it. I really do. You have kids, you want the best for
them. But how do you define “the best?” This piece on All Things Considered
was refreshing for several reasons. This family, like many others,
is doing their Best for their children by coming to America — for
the schools, believe it or not. (Don’t blast me yet. I’m not about
to defend our educational system. Believe me, I live in a place
where the public schools are not up to par and we absolutely can
not afford private school tuition either, like most Americans. Just
follow me here.) In a world of Calculus-induced child abandonment and
Tiger Moms, hearing a father say that
part of why he left his home country for US schools — so that his
kids could enjoy being kids — was refreshing.

I think whole life is competition
when they grow up. But when they are young, when they are small
kids, they need some happiness.”
– Hyungsoo
Kim, on why he’s brought his children to the U.S. for an
education

We have a lot
of kids, and, of course, we want them to do well in school and
pursue their interests. However, their interests are just that —
THEIRS. I could not reject my child’s love because they weren’t
living up to some crazy I-need-to-live-vicariously-through-my-child
expectations. (Confused? Did you read this whole article? I’m referring to The Birthday
Card incident, which made me want to shake this woman.) I learn as
much from my kids as they learn from me. Sure, you can take a class
to learn how to diaper, feed, & swaddle your baby; I
haven’t seen a class that teaches how to handle inconsolable crying over wanting the thing that
blows leaves that Elmo was in made out of sparkly green silly
putty
. Those are our lessons in patience as parents,
taught in insane circumstances by our children. Some of the things
we try our best to impart to our children are things that they
really don’t learn in school: choosing what kind of people they
want to be; how they treat others; balance, in all things;
self-respect. These are life lessons. They aren’t Calculus or a
piano sonata — they are far more important than that. Advanced
math skills won’t excuse anyone for treating other people poorly.
The Tiger Mom commented that her father raised her in the same
strict manner. (For those thinking like I am… strict, or abusive?
Potato, potahto, right?) If that rule applies to all things, then I
guess I can start peeing all over every toilet seat I occupy
because I live in a house full of boys and, occasionally, I have to
clean the seat before I do my business. Where I come from, that’s
called flawed logic. At the end of the day, regardless of what kind
of parenting day it’s been or whether or not your day really ends
because your kids aren’t the best sleepers, they are kids. We, as
adults, have rough days. Why can’t kids? We, as adults, make
mistakes. Kids do, too! If I made a mistake at my job and I was
punished by having to work for hours on end with no break, even for
water or the bathroom, I could cry to HR and probably win a huge
lawsuit to boot. But flawed logic states that this woman can force
her 7-year-old child to practice the same piano piece for hours on
end with no break, even for water or the bathroom, and that’s ok.
Right. I guess my biggest issue with the Tiger Mom is that I want
to understand her motives. What does she think she’s imparting in
her children that will ensure their success as adults? And exactly
how is she defining “success?” Because if I have to abuse my kids,
which is what she is doing to her kids, to attain that level of
“success,” I’m solidly not interested. Those kids will either grow
up and treat their kids the same way, or they will grow up and
disavow their mother for her overbearing ways. They are KIDS, and
only for a little while in the grand scheme of things. They should
be allowed to be what they are.

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of Speech

May 6, 2011 Well, that was fun. I’ve never written a letter
to the editor of any newspaper, and it was difficult to cut the
original rant (see previous post), but it feels good to say what I
think and to hear that others agree. I would never imply that the
woman who wrote the original article had no right to do so; I
simply didn’t agree with some of the “facts” in the article or with
where it was placed in the paper (I, like others, thought it
should’ve been in the Opinion Section. Maybe that’s being too picky
or splitting hairs, but it’s just my opinion).

Last updated by at .

%d bloggers like this: