His Reputation Precedes Him

A couple of weeks ago, we were in the Friendly Giant’s neighborhood. And I thought why not visit my baby brother? I hadn’t been to his place since he moved in. So I texted him, and he was home and awake. The boys and I swung by and offered doughnuts for coming at the early hour of 10am.

As you can imagine, the boys had a great time. It’s their favorite uncle. And he owns an electric fireplace that changes color!

While the Friendly Giant was wrestling with all three tornadoes, his roommate came home. The wrestling game was put on hold (or “paused” as Tornado S likes to say), so my brother could introduce us.

The roommate: So which one likes Darth Vader and Hitler?

We all looked at Tornado S. He smiled.

To be fair, he only wanted to play a Nazi to play Indiana Jones. He’s not allowed to like real bad guys.

Meanest Grandma in the Whole World

People, I’m the meanest mom in the whole world. Just ask my tornadoes.

It’s true.

Well, sometimes. Sometimes I’m the coolest mom in the whole world.

Sometimes my mom is the meanest grandma in the whole world. You know, because she makes my tornadoes do their homework in their nicest handwriting, makes them pick up every toy, and makes them ask to turn on the TV or the Wii every time. So mean. Seriously, I don’t know if I could compete. Some days I only make them pick up most of the toys. But I totally am harder on how they speak to each other and having a taste of each food on their plate. And I don’t let them play video games or watch TV any time they want or how long they want.  I am so mean.

Naturally after one of these you’re-the-meanest-grandma-in-the-world, I had to ask.

Me: Who’s meaner? Mommy or Grandma?

Tornado E: Grandma!

Tornado S: Grandma!

Tornado A: Nana!

I gave her my oh-that’s-right-you-heard-it-here-first-I-rock face. She just gave a they’re-angry-right-now-but-just-wait-I’m-the-grandma-you’re-the-mom. And she’s right. She can trump my mom card any day. I have to be mean. She can spoil them if she chooses.

But I will not be brought down in my victory by mere facts and accurate guesses.

I’m cooler than my mom. I’m a cooler mom than their grandma.

So I had to brag to my dad and tell him the whole story when he got home. As it happens, I told him in front of the boys.

Papi: Who would be Darth Vader? Grandma, your mommy, or me?

Tornado E: Grandma!

Tornado S: Grandma!

Tornado A: Nana!

My dad and I exchanged smug looks. My mom rolled her eyes.

Papi: Ok. Who would be Luke Skywalker? Your mommy or me?

Tornado E: Mommy!

Tornado S: Papi!

Tornado A: Mommy!

My dad and I exchanged looks.

Papi: Ok. Who would be Han Solo? Your mommy or me?

Tornado E: Papi!

Tornado S: Mommy!

Tornado A: Papi!

Me: (to my dad) I really don’t know what to make of that. But at least I’m not a Sith Lord.

I Get By With a Little Help from my Friends

In my tweet for my last post, I wrote “I get by with a little help from my friends.”  And I do.  Seriously.  I don’t know what I would do without my amazing friends.

I lean on several to get the stuff out of my head.  I talk for hours about my fears and troubles and craziness.  And they listen and give comfort and give advice.  They’re so amazing.  Sometimes I feel like I’m vomiting words, trying to make sense of my life and how I feel and what I will do, and then I apologize for monopolizing the conversations and (lately) always being a downer.  Because they are awesome, they tell me it’s ok and this is how they support me.

If that isn’t enough to have them lend their strength and wisdom, they try their best to take care of me.

My Favorite Freshman drove two hours to be with me on the night I learned of the ruling.  Every time she visits, she thrusts clothes and random stuff for the boys and me into my arms.  She insists on feeding me and donating to the inevitable garage sale coming my way.  She’s promised to drive two hours to sit for me if I ever need it.  Seriously, how lucky am I?  For Mother’s Day, she bought me a family pass to the zoo because “you need to be able to be the fun parent too.”

Another friend insisted on taking me out to the movies the other week because I needed to get out and have fun.  I tried to give her money for the ticket, and she waved it away with “it was my idea.”

I could not function without Wally and Cat.  I know if I needed them, any time of day, they would move heaven and earth to help me.

An old college friend messaged me out of the blue, asking to talk.  We hadn’t talked on the phone for years.  (Stupid Facebook for making us believe we know what was going on in other people’s lives.)  We talked for several hours, and whenever I tried to turn the conversation to her, she would insist that she called to hear about my life.  Then to top off her awesomeness, she sent me a cookbook for cooking for one or two servings.  I thanked her, and she told me she did it to honor my new life and it would give me a reason to stay in contact to tell her how the recipes taste.  And to think, when we met as freshmen in college, she thought I was a bitch and we would never get along.  (She was only half right.)

Then there’s the Unicorn.  Who Tornado A blacklisted on my phone, so we fell out of touch for a few weeks.  She’s so awesome.  I’m so happy for her, and her texts make me so happy.  Then she sent me a whole bunch of stickers and candy and salsa spice mixes.  Yea surprises!  Now if only I could get to the post office to mail all the stuff I’ve been hording for her.

I’m lucky to have more awesome friends.  I know there are several that if I just called, they would talk with me for hours as though time never passed, and if I needed anything, they would totally be there for me.  I told Wally I was blessed.  Then I laughed because I hate using the word “blessed.”

For a while, I felt really guilty for being so lucky.  Then one day it dawned on me that if roles were reversed, I would be doing the same thing.  Before I was poor, I was treating my friends out for dinners and movies and buying them little “smile” gifts.  Before I became really poor, I was sending stickers, cards, and presents when I could.  I look forward to the days I can do that again.  In the meantime, I’m always happy to listen and console.  I’m always happy to babysit and feed people.

Even though a lot of parts of my life suck right now, I’ve got this amazing group of people supporting me.  If I keep my eyes on the prize, nothing is going to stop me.

A little vacation

I took the boys on a little vacation last week.  Just 5 days up to Phoenix.  Two nights with one friend in a two-bedroom apartment.  Two nights with another friend and her husband and son in a two-bedroom apartment.  I was worried about imposing and being the poor relation but . . .

 

My first friend is my Favorite Freshman from my senior year in high school.

And

She bought the boys toys and several outfits, including bright yellow shirts for them to wear to the children’s museum.

She insisted on taking us out for pizza and video games and paying for the children’s museum (“because that’s what sisters do.”)

She stocked her kitchen with tons of kid-friendly food.

She played with us at the children’s museum and at splash pads and watched movies with us.

Tornado A: can we stay here?

Me: For how long?

Tornado A: For lots of days!

 

And then

We spent the next few days with my close friend and her son.

Before her husband left for a friend’s house, he downloaded Plants vs Zombies for my boys to play.

She got us into the zoo for free.

She insisted on taking us out for pizza and video games and splitting meals we had out.

She has the cutest boy, and my boys love him.

And splash pads!

Tornado A: When can we go to Cat’s house?

Me: Soon.

Tornado A: YEA!!!!

 

Seriously, one of the best vacations ever.

And I’m seriously one of the luckiest people to have such awesome friends.

A Mother’s Son

While staying at a friend’s place this weekend, I fell asleep with Tornado A and Tornado S, who was suppose to be reading us a story.  My friend tried to keep Tornado E occupied, instead of letting him wake us up.  So she asked him questions.  He told her about the book he was reading and his favorite animals and all about dragons.  A lot about dragons.  For an hour, he talked all about dragons like they were a real, scientific species.

She shook her head and whispered, “You are your mother’s son.”

When I woke up and joined them, she told me the whole story.

My friend: He is your son.

I smiled.

Tornado E: Of course, I am.  Why wouldn’t I be?

I love that kid.

Clever Boy

We were watching Tornado E’s karate class, when Tornado A noticed the woman in front of him was playing some sort of Bejeweled game with a Frozen theme.

Tornado A: That’s a cool game, Mommy.

Me: Yes.

Tornado A: Can we get it?

Me: I don’t know.  We’ll see.

Tornado A: I can get it.  I’ll sneak and get it tonight.

Me: What?

Tornado A: Tonight I will sneak out.  You will be reading, so I will sneak out to the car.  And I will get it then.

Me: What will you do at the car?

Tornado A: I can drive it.

Me: Oh.  How will you get the game?

Tornado A: I will sneak out and get it.

Me: Oh.

Tornado A: Do you have a tablet?

Me: (Dear Lord.) No.  I don’t.

Tornado A: Then I will get it on your phone.  It will have to be smaller.

Me: I love you, kid.

Tornado A: I love you too, Mommy.

Note to self: Hide the credit cards and block the app store on the phone.

Why I Don’t Sleep

It’s been noted that I birthed three morning larks and that I’m a night owl.  This is a problem.  But I have naps.  This last quarter, I worked from 8am to 3:30 pm officially. (Unofficially there’s another two hours of grading and planning, and more time on the weekends. Woo)  Naps became a problem.  I began to go to bed early.  Like midnight.  Which is like early for me.

But now it’s summer.  And I can have naps again!  Since I’m up later, and the boys are up earlier.  (The sun!  It’s up!  The day must start NOW!)  Oh, but wait.  Two boys don’t need naps.  They need to read.  And one needs to read out loud, so I can make sure he is actually reading.  Or the boys need to do their workbooks, if they hadn’t already done them.  Or maybe we’re working on a complicated craft.  Goodbye, naptime….

Then there are nights like last night.

I crashed early because … ok, fine… I was sleep deprived from the night before.  I fell asleep over a book.

Then at 12:15.  One.  Two.  Three boys jumped in my bed.  Nightmares.  What could I do?

1:15. My God, where’s the AC?  Why isn’t it on?  I pushed aside two bodies to make room to get out of bed.  I stumbled to the thermostat and adjusted it.  I stumbled back to my bed and pushed aside bodies to make room.  (This is probably where I should’ve carried boys back to sleep, but my brain stops functioning logically after I fall asleep.)

2:15 My God, are there dwarves with pick axes inside my head?  I pushed aside two bodies to make room to get out of bed.  I stumbled to my bathroom and took pain relievers.  I stumbled back into bed and pushed bodies away to make room for myself.

3:15 My God, why must they be glued to me?  I need air!  I pushed aside two bodies to make a little more room.

Please God, let me sleep.

6:00 GOOD MORNING, MOMMY!!!!

Oh, for the love of God!

That’s Me Part 2

To go along with the commercial theme, again we were watching TV.  (It’s become very educational.  I think I’ve got Tornado S on the side of the good guys with Teen Titans Go.  Fingers crossed.)

Then the Capri Sun commercial came on the TV.  The one where the moms are debating who is the cooler mom.  At the end of the commercial, one of the moms gives her son Capri Suns to give to his friends, and she says to her friend, “Wait for it.”  The kids in the background shout, “Cool!”  And the mom says, “That’s me.  Cool mom.”

Tornado E turned to me with a smile.

Tornado E: That’s you!  Cool Mom!

Me: Really?

Tornado E and Tornado S: YEAH!

Tornado E: Yeah, you’re the coolest mom I know.

Yup, that’s me.  Cool mom.

He’s going to hate that in high school.  I did.

That’s Me

Because of my student teaching, my sons have been exposed to commercials at my parents’ house.  Back a few months ago, Rice Krispies was running a commercial with an African-American mother and her two kids, making Rice Krispie Treats in egg form and placing a couple of candies in the middle.

We were eating a snack at the breakfast bar in my parents’ house, watching TV, when the commercial came on.

Tornado E: Mommy, that’s you!

Me: What?  (I mean.)  Why do you think that’s me?

I’m just a few shades darker than albino with blonde hair and light eyes.  I don’t tan.  I become a darker shade of white.  I do not look anything like the mother in the commercial.  Besides my hair is a lot longer.

Tornado E: Because you like making things with us, just like the mom in the commercial.

Oh.  Well, there’s that.

Me: (smile) Thanks, baby.  I do like making things with you.  Should we make those?

Tornado E: YES!

Walking With Ghosts

Like parenthood, I greatly underestimated the commitment needed to do student teaching.  I was at school fulltime, slowly taking over the teacher’s job, doing everything required of a teacher, plus doing everything required of a student.  So the blog had to be put on the back burner.  Again.

It was so weird working at my old high school.  Every corner held a memory rising up to meet me.

That’s the parking spot J, Speedo, and I always fought over.  I won most of the time because I more dedicated to winning than 5 minutes of extra sleep.

That’s the place I would wait for my mom to pick me up before I was hold enough to drive.  It was there Speedo convinced me to be in the first play he had written.  It was there we realized a New Jersey accent was the only one I couldn’t copy.

There’s the vice principal’s office where I was called because I had “ditched school and was found on our rival’s school property.”  “What?  Did someone check ‘my’ ID?”  “Um, no.”  “Did someone check the school records to see if I was here?”  “Um, one second. (pause).  You weren’t marked absent.”  “Then I suggest you tell their security guards to check IDs next time.”  Idiots.

That was the counselor’s office.  That was were I told my first grown up that I was suicidal as I held my best friend’s hand.

That was the wall they put our class hearts for Valentine’s Day.  Each student had a heart.  Each year I stole my best friend’s heart, so she thought she had a secret admirer.  She was all so excited.

That was my chemistry teacher/swim coach’s room.  I could almost see my self standing in there with him asking him some off the wall science question.  How does Advil work?  Why do we have eyebrows?  Could you help me with number 4?  So if someone were to swallow this… what do you mean ‘don’t ask?’  Um, would you, um, if you want, if you have time, would you, um, writemycollegereferenceletter?

That’s were the potheads hung out.

Senior year, after 5th period, that’s were I passed Speedo on the stairs every day.

That’s the classroom where I got my only B in English.  Jerk.

That’s the classroom where my junior honors English teacher asked me to join the poetry club.

I always had my locker in the 300 building.

Outside that door, I helped my friend stuff his bra with tennis balls, helped him put on and adjust his bra, and straighten his wig.  “You make a lovely Lady Capulet.”  “Thanks, Fae.”  “You know, you could’ve just changed the character into a boy.”  “Where’s the fun in that?”  Ah, drama boys.

I remembered the year they took off the doors to the bathrooms.

I remembered sitting outside waiting for the bomb-sniffing dogs to finish, knowing all along it was all a prank.

There is where we sat for lunch my senior year.  7 of us.  Then 6 when I couldn’t handle the trash talk of two of the girls.  Then 5 when I was asked back after the group made the two girls leave.

That was the spot I gave up chase and let AK run across the quad fearing that I would catch him and do something horrible to him.  He apparently forgotten my reputation when he suggested I go out to his car, so he could pop my cherry.  I rose slowly from my seat.  My best friend whispered, “She’s going to kill him.”  “If I catch you AK, I will make sure you can’t use your dick for a week.  If I can’t and I see you gain, I will rip it off,” I whispered.  He took off running, and I followed.  I never saw him again.

During an assembly, I scanned the faces imagining seeing my high school friends and I acting like high schoolers.

As I followed my class out to their spot to wait out the fire drill, I looked over to the softball field where a younger version of myself stood talking with my friend, nearly ignoring the softball game from the outfield.  There was a good solid crack of the bat.  Paying half attention to the batter, I turned to my friend, “Excuse me for a moment.”  I looked up and took a step forward with my mitt and hand in the air.  Rejudging the distance, I took three steps back and caught the fly.  With a jump step, I launched the ball straight for home plate where the other team’s runner thought he could steal home because the outfield held all the lousy players.  The ball went straight and hard without a bounce.  The catcher caught it and tagged the runner out.  The P.E. teacher, standing on the pitcher’s mound, gawked at me.  We hustled in to take our places in the line up.  “R——, where’d you learn that?” called the P.E. teacher as I jogged by.  I smirked.  “Ten seasons of fast-pitch softball.”

One windy afternoon, I walked out to my car later than usual.  The parking lot was empty.  I looked over and saw where a friend and I stood on a cement parking bumper.  We held our hands above our heads, pretending to be on a roller coaster.  Ah drama girls.

I’m just glad I never had to go into The Little Theater, where I’m sure the shadows and ghosts would be the thickest.