Relearning

Someone once told me that we keep relearning the same lesson until we get it. Or maybe it was in a book. Or movie. Or on a bumper sticker. I should probably go look it up, but I won’t.

I have a system. One that works well for me. I write lists. As long as I have a list, I get things done. (Except in October when my list was so massive that it made me cry, but usually it’s easy to deal with.) I am able to be efficient. I feel balanced. Usually I feel accomplished.

But then I fail to write the list or look at the list. And then bad things happen.

Like not detailing out lesson plans. Not writing blog posts. Not doing the pinewood derby cars with the boys. You know, the little things that will become big things that bite me in the ass.

So back to the system. So that I do not have to write another blog post about failing the system and using the same old Simpson quote.

 

Homer: Blame me, if you must, but don’t ever speak ill of the Program. The Program is rock solid! The Program is sound!

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In Defense of Selfies

When I was in college, I took Sociology 101. While taking the class, we had to test ourselves with all sorts of social tests like riding the elevator backwards, eating a meal (usually eaten with utensils) hands-free, or standing in a place people usual walk. One of the tests was to stare at yourself in the mirror for five minutes.

The point of the test was to hear the negative thought process. In theory, we can’t go 5 minutes at looking at ourselves without starting to think negative things about our face. We look for those negative things.

Except that’s not how it worked on me. While everyone talked about pimples, eyebrows, crooked teeth, weird body parts, I kept silent. When I watched myself for five minutes, I was impressed by my eyes. Flecks of green, grey, and blue. A yellow circle. Just really pretty eyes. I never thought about anything wrong with my face.

Now take the selfie. My female students do them quite a bit. My male students do it every so often. At the end of the year, several of my female students wanted to take selfies with me.I hadn’t mugged for the camera in years, but for these girls, I wanted to model positive body image. So I was in several selfies.

I became curious. These girls loved getting their pictures taken.

Then when I saw a friend in California this summer, we did a selfie. She used a filter that made me go, wow, I need that. So I decided to try an experiment. Talk a selfie every day for a month.

At first, it was intimidating. It was stupid and childish. I only had fun trying different selfie apps. But god, what am I? Self absorbed?

But then I noticed a change. I liked how I looked. I liked my hair. I liked my eyes. I liked my smile. I thought I was cute. I thought I looked good.

Now I know the mirror image helps. We’re used to seeing ourselves in the mirror image, so when we see pictures of ourselves, we’re weirded out. We think we look wrong. But that’s only because we’re not use to seeing ourselves regular.

But I like this new confidence.

Basically, I approve of this selfie movement. If it gets kids to like how they look, give them a little more confidence to be who they are, that’s awesome. And as with EVERYTHING, everything in moderation.

So if you’re reading this, I recommend a month of selfies.

Unconditional Love

Me: I love you no matter what, no matter what you do. I will love you forever and always.

Tornado E: What if I kill someone?

Me: Don’t. (Sigh) But yes.

Tornado S: What if I make the death ray?

Me: Don’t! But yes.

Tornado A: What if I kill a lot of people?

Me: What? Don’t! But yes.

Tornado E: What if I take over a country?

Me: Don’t do that. But yes.

What if I build the Death Star?

What if I killed Daddy?

What if I killed you?

What if I kill my brothers?

What if I blow up a small planet?

What if I kill you and Daddy?

Really. I don’t know where I went wrong. I don’t know where this conversation went wrong. Lord, help me.

Evolution

We were at a zoo/museum, standing outside an atrium. On the atrium outside wall was a cool metal art piece, illustrating the evolutionary leaps of fish ancestor to bird. It had about 10 figures.

Tornado A: Mama, what’s that?

Me: That’s the evolution of the bird, starting with its fish ancestor.

Tornado A: Oh.

Tornado S: So that’s how the bird evolved into the dragon.

Me: Not yet.

Empty Threats

We are caught up in the Marvel Universe. We just need to see Thor: Ragnarok. Or really, the boys need to see Ragnarok. I saw it weeks ago. And my plan was to take the boys to see it this week in the second hand theaters.

It’s not there yet.

So I promised. Not this weekend because they’re with their dad. But next week I’ll take them to see Ragnarok.

Tornado E: Or I could ask Daddy.

Me: No. No. Your dad has already proven he can’t handle taking you to Marvel movies.

Tornado E: It was late. We hadn’t had dinner yet.

Me: You do not skip end credit scenes. You plan for that. You don’t come into movies late. You just don’t.

I mean. Honestly. I’m trying to raise kids who respect the story, respect the movie. Their dad should know better.

Tornado E: I’m going to ask Daddy to take us any ways.

Me: I won’t take you to see Black Panther.

I know. Harsh. But desperate times, people.

Tornado E: But Mama…..

I raised an eyebrow.

He pouted.

Then they got to talk to their dad on the phone several hours later.

Tornado E: Daddy! I’ve got an idea for the weekend.

Me: (hissing) Tornado E.

Tornado E: (laughing.) Nevermind, Daddy. (Sticks out his tongue at me and carries on his conversation with his dad)

I looked over at my dad and pointed at Tornado E and then gestured “What the hell?” My father has no sympathy. He laughed.

Me: Why does he have to be so mean?

My dad: He’s Got Our Genes.

My family is pranksters, jokesters, and storytellers. And we’re mean as hell just for the laughs. Stupid genes.

 

Little Devil

Me: Tornado A, what do you want to be for Halloween?

Tornado A: Satan!

Me: Ok.

My mother: You’re letting him be Satan for Halloween?

Me: Sure, why not?

My mother: Because. It’s not right. How about you go as a devil, Tornado A?

Tornado A: Satan is The Devil.

My mother eyed me. I shrugged. I envisioned a red suit with red shirt and tie.

***

The Fem Spot: Maybe you could call him something other than Satan? Doesn’t Paradise Lost have other names for him? Like Lucifer?

I had just finished telling her the costume plans. I decided to ask Tornado A what he wanted to wear, just in case he preferred red sweats and a red turtleneck (none to be found). He asked for a black suit and red shirt and tie. AND HORNS, MAMA!

Me: Well, I am Catholic and an English teacher. I should be able to come up with something….. The Morning Star, The Light Bringer, The Deceiver, The Fallen One. He Who Must Not Be Named. Wait. Wrong book.

The Fem Spot: You’ll think of something.

***

So it was my youngest son went as the Lord of Hell with a black suit, red shirt, red tie, a pitchfork, and HORNS. And the best joke I heard was at a Halloween event at the zoo.

Comicon Guy: Why isn’t it The Man, himself? Hello, sir. Good evening. But I believe you’re early, and that is a breach of contract.

 

 

The Bag

Oh no.

I whispered as my eyes fell upon the bag Tornado A was using for a backpack.

It was a cheap employee laptop bag, a desperation move, a life saver thrown out by my dad when I was told last Wednesday that Tornado A needed a new backpack. That the teacher had told my mom. My mom had told the ex several days before. That Wednesday I counted the stores I needed to go to while the boys were in kung fu and the grading I should do instead. The Rice Krispie Treats that needed to be made at the same time as tomorrow’s lunches. The horrible exhaustion I felt. I thought about tomorrow with the Cub Scout and Boy Scout meetings and the training I was suppose to go to instead and the popcorn money needed to be collected and the lunches to be made.

I don’t know when to get it… Not until the weekend…

I whispered in a near panic, thinking about the to-do list so long that it took up the entire page of a loose leaf sheet of paper, the one that started out as a column, then two, then like vines spread across the paper, choking the white with black ink. The to-do list that rarely shrank but kept growing without an end in sight. Everything needed to be done THIS VERY MINUTE. A to-do list that frightened me more than any other to-do list I ever had. I was failing.

So the next morning my dad produced this work bag, and Tornado A looked at it with disdain. So I fixed the straps to make it his length and ran out of the room. I grabbed my heavy, nearly-full messenger bag. I put it on.

See? We have the same type of bag! We both take it to school!

Tornado A laughed and put it on.

Or like Sheldon!

Just like Mama!

But that was last Thursday, and now it was Monday. I was running late, feeling sick to my stomach because of bad food or not enough vegetables or that To-Do List. I wasn’t dressed or showered though the clock read 7, and I needed to be gone in 15 minutes. I didn’t prep the night before because I was sick and exhausted, waiting only for my hair to dry enough to put it in curlers. And I had forgotten to get a backpack all weekend.

We did a movie night instead. Ant-Man because the boys have to watch the Marvel Universe unfold in order, and I did laundry and graded while the boys slept. And Comicon took most of Saturday. But then we watched Simpsons after we came home while I graded. Yesterday the karate tournament in Phoenix with the long drive and-

It didn’t matter. I forgot. I should’ve put the exhaustion aside and gone to the store. My dad mentioned getting one during work Friday. But it doesn’t matter. I’m the mom. It’s my responsibility. And I. I failed.

I forgot to get Tornado A a new backpack.

I said loudly to the house.

My dad walked by the foyer. “That’s ok, Fae. Tornado A doesn’t want one. He wants that one. Just like his Mama’s.”