Category Archives: For Laughs

The New Report Card

February 2, 2014

I got my son’s very first report card the other day. Yes, I had gotten progress reports from Nursery School before, but this was a real “Report Card”. The kind that you get in elementary school. The kind that goes on a record that someone can look up years afterward.

I wasn’t expecting it. I knew that I was going to get them this year and that they would come eventually, but I certainly didn’t mark it my in calendar or anything.

I unpacked his lunchbox and then I looked inside the school folder and there was a sealed envelope. Seriously, I was standing at the island for a full ten seconds with this envelope in my hands and still didn’t know what the hell it was. Totally on top of it, I know.

Then I realized. Crazy Asian mom came up in my head, replete with anxiety. THIS IS HIS FIRST REPORT CARD. Subsequent thoughts: “Do I open it right away?” “Do I need to wait for my husband to come home so we can pore over it together?” I called my husband at work, ever the calm participant in our conversations, and he said, “Oh, go ahead and open it.”

“Should I open it while we’re on the phone?”

Silence. (Which means, “Go and open it because it’s a frikkin’ kindergarten report card and there’s nothing in there so incredibly outrageous that I would need to know about it before I make my next major life-altering decision at work.”) Then “It’s okay, honey. I’ll look at it when I come home.”

So I opened it, and the first thing I had to do was acquaint myself with the new legend. When I was in kindergarten, you had two possible outcomes:

1) Unsatisfactory or

2) Satisfactory

You were basically gunning for the pass. And to get a “U” you had to tackle a classmate with a self-fashioned shiv and show no remorse when the teacher pried you off the unsuspecting fool who got accosted while he was trying to wash the tempera paint off his smock with the brown paper towels that did nothing.

Apparently, things have changed. The system has been revised. There are now four possible outcomes:

1) Student requires on-going intervention to develop this skill

2) Student demonstrates this skill some of the time

3) Student demonstrates this skill most of the time

4) Student consistently demonstrates this skill

Subsequent thoughts: “Does this translate into the standard A/B/C/D?” “Can we really make these kinds of distinctions in kindergarten?” That seemed too crazy, especially since I’m first generation. “Do I add up all the numbers like a Cosmo quiz to figure out if my kid is ‘really smokin’ kindergarten?'” I shrugged the crazy thoughts off and started going through the line items being assessed, glancing anxiously back up at the legend like it was going to give me some context. It really didn’t. Because how often is “some” and how often is “most”? Is “some” infrequent enough that my kid is getting on the teacher’s nerves because he doesn’t have his shit together? And then it hit me.

The verbiage above is code for the following:

1) You really need to work on this shit whether you know about it or not

2) You need to start worrying about this shit if you aren’t already

3) Your kid has this shit mostly covered but could do better

4) You don’t need to worry about this shit at all

And then the world made sense again. Anything that had something less than 4 I just compared to my own barometer of whether it was high enough on my radar. Turns out the teacher knows him as well as I do, and at the very least he’s consistent. I then signed the report card, assessed myself a 4 for “Ability to Read a Report Card Accurately” and rewarded myself a 500 calorie drink at Starbucks.

Mommy Blackout

April 21, 2010

One night last week, I started partaking in a glass of wine at about 8 pm. At 8 am the next day, I awoke to find that I had passed out the night before. I didn’t remember falling asleep, nor did I remember the gentle nudge I’m sure my loving husband gave me telling me to crawl into bed, or even getting into my pajamas and actually crawling into bed. But there I was, jolted awake in the morning sunshine by my five month old daughter lying next to me.

And I thought, “Holy crap, I had a blackout!”

Now before you think I have serious problems, while I am known amongst my circle of friends for diving into a bottle of wine when I have appropriate childcare, it is not my regular practice to drink enough to bring about blackout. I can only remember two instances pre-motherhood when I drank so much that I couldn’t remember how I got home. After the second incident, I decided that kind of behavior is just…unseemly.

From what I do remember, here are the major differences:

After a day of particularly challenging negotiations/spirited conversations/wrangling with your two year old and five month old, mommy drinking starts on the couch at 8:00 pm (when the kids are in bed and the hubby is home) and ends at 8:30 pm, when you pass out.

Pre-mommy drinking doesn’t even start until 10:30, most certainly happens outside the home, and requires that you have very uncomfortable but smashing footwear on. (Mommy drinking happens barefoot or with chenille socks on if it’s winter. Tres sexy.)

When you’re a breastfeeding mom, the drinking rationale goes this way: glass 1 – “I just need to take the edge off, and it will be out of my system before I have to feed the baby again”, glass 2 – “well, I do have pumped milk in the fridge”, glass 3 – the truth is, you never get through glass 3, but you might pour it if you’re feeling very ambitious.

The only thoughts about milk while drinking pre-kids are whether it would go well with your Baileys or Kahlua.

When you are childless and fancy-free, awakening after the big night kind of goes like this: “Oh God, what happened? How did I get home? I don’t know where my keys are, but I’m sure I must have them because I’m home. Oh, how thoughtful of whoever poured me into my bed to put a garbage can next to me in case I need to unexpectedly vomit over the side. Why in the world do I have a boob hanging out?!?”

When you wake from your “big night on the couch”, you think, “What time is it? I wonder what time my son went to sleep last night? Do I have any time to hop in the shower before he wakes up and wants breakfast? What is that smell? Oh, it’s her diaper. Why is last night’s mac and cheese crusted all over the high chair? Oh God, I’m going to kill myself tripping on those trains in the hallway. Damn, my boob is out again; I need to remember to hook that nursing bra.”

It’s all just very…different. But then you hear the footsteps of your son careening down the hallway, and through bleary eyes you see that 1000 watt smile and hear his sweet little voice say, “Two eggs?” and think, “Today’s going to be a good day.”

My Stroller, the Pack Mule

April 22, 2010

 

My daughter is five months old. So is my stroller. It’s a double.

One of my closest girlfriends once said to me when I was pregnant with my second, “One kid is an accessory. Two kids, and it’s impossible to make it look sexy.” She was dead on.

We have some friends who refuse to get a double stroller (they’re Boston Back Bay types – think the kind of people who make having a family in the city look as cool and breezy as possible). Whenever my husband and I mentioned getting one, they would vehemently protest and tell us, “You don’t need one, the older one can walk!” They swore up and down that the kids would never sleep at the same time anyway. BUT, I kept seeing moms in the middle of the day with two sleeping kids. And I thought, “If there’s even a chance…”

So we got one. We have a Valco Ion for Two, and I love it. (No, I was not compensated for that plug.) As far as I know, it’s the thinnest side-by-side on the market, and I think it comes as close as possible to making a double stroller look snazzy. But, when it’s in full gear, it still looks like a pack mule. Perfect strangers will pass me and say, “Ready for anything, huh?” I’ve also gotten “It’s a moveable house!” (To which I always think in response, “If you only knew about the home office and portable kitchenette I’ve got going on in the diaper bag…”) The closest it’s ever come to being sexy was when the very attractive young British guy who lives down the hall (tall, dark, handsome, rugby playing Brit) said, “Wow! Double pram!” and that had a lot more to do with the person talking than the object being talked about.

It’s big, wide, and decidedly unsexy. There’s also something about its girth that begs to be loaded up, like one of those black masses in a sci-fi movie that just keeps growing.

If you asked me on any given day what I have in the stroller, I would say the base inventory would include (feel free to hum William Tell’s Overture to yourself here):

Water, my decaf coffee,

three Thomas trains for Julian,

his milk, soy milk and Cheerios,

my phone, headset and headphones.

My hooter hider, baby sling,

their jackets, hats and mittens,

a sippee cup and formula,

my wallet and some raisins.

Keys, some tissues, the diapers and wipes…

And that doesn’t include whatever we pick up during our errands. This afternoon we picked up some toys for birthday gifts. I had two big plastic bags hanging off the stroller and felt like one of those crazy old Asian people you see riding around with recyclables hanging off their bicycles.

Sometimes I think my son jettisons things out of the carriage because he’s afraid we’re so heavy we might stop moving.

Why can’t I be one of those sexy moms who throws two diapers into a slightly larger than normal purse and runs out the door? I guess because, like the US Coast Guard, my motto is “semper paratus”. And only a pack mule will fit the bill.

The Sun Shines on Even A Dog’s…

April 27, 2010

This morning I woke up at 7:15. Yes, people. My son didn’t wake up until 7:15, and so neither did I. Yesterday I decided today I would “fly solo”, meaning I would be working sporadically, without any help and putting my general sanity at stake for five to ten minute stretches throughout the day. The timing to the start of our day wasn’t even the strange part. My son got up, but didn’t come running in to wake me, or even request his morning milk. He didn’t even ask me to turn on “Blues Clues”. He played in his room until I went in to say good morning to him. My daughter cooed and gave me that big toothless grin that only a five month old can. My first thought was, “This won’t last”. It didn’t. We were out of milk.

My problem is that I always have to have an agenda for the day. I am not one of those Zen moms who can just “be”. As any sane mom knows, the things on your “to do list” are not mandates; they are suggestions about what you might spend the time that your kids “allow” you. I am apparently insane because I am not only fixated on actually doing the things on my list, I want to finish them.

Here was my list for today:

1) do four loads of laundry

2) drop off plastic bags for recycling

3) find a hamper for the kids’ room

4) go to Costco

Easy, right?

The laundry is easy to kick off, but hard to keep up with. I always have clothes in the washer but they don’t seem to get into the dryer without a concerted effort. Folding is always thwarted, multiple times. By 9 AM, the first load had dried. I told myself, “Costco opens at 10. I will fold this load, and then we’ll get on the road.” Setting that expectation caused everything to fall apart. The kids were now aware that mommy had “a plan”, and no enforcer (a.k.a. nanny). I could almost hear my daughter thinking through that sweet little smile, “Prepare to reap the whirlwind.”

By 11:30 AM, that load was still not folded. What happened in the interim was this: my son’s decision that he wanted eggs for breakfast, the actual making of the eggs, the decision that he wanted to open the Thomas the Train tracks that were “hidden” above the fridge, my saying “no”, the subsequent meltdown, the change of heart about the eggs, another meltdown for no reason at all, my daughter crying to be fed, actually feeding her, putting her down in the swing, my daughter crying to be fed immediately upon being put in the swing. Repeat the last four events three times. Sprinkle in my son’s several requests for milk, which cannot be fulfilled because we CANNOT GET OUT OF THE HOUSE TO GO TO COSTCO, and very loud whining upon realization that milk cannot be procured from the fridge, which even thought it’s been opened five times, may magically have milk the next time it’s opened.

At this point, running back and forth within our condo, which is all of 1200 square feet, I am starting to feel like my life is strangely like the running gag in Benny Hill, but instead of scantily clad women I have kids in diapers running after me. Why am I moving at breakneck speed? What do I think I’m going to achieve? Do I actually think I’m going to be able to sit down and have a moment to drink my morning coffee? That’s when I have to remind myself that it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

We did eventually get to Costco. There was a five minute period when both kids were screaming at the top of their lungs, but we got the milk. And I even found the hamper and dropped off the recycling. And then, because she was so tired from unleashing her wrath on me, my daughter fell asleep for three hours. It would have been too much to ask for my son to take a nap in that window (God knows I tried), but he quieted down enough for me to catch up with one of my best friends on the West Coast for fifteen minutes. What can I say? The sun shines on even a dog’s ass once in a while.

Why Gratitude Is The Ultimate Aphrodisiac

June 8, 2010

I cannot believe that it’s already been a month since Mother’s Day. I have to admit I had a really exceptional one. My husband let me sleep in while he made me crab eggs benedict from scratch. It took him a dozen eggs and two batches of hollandaise, but the man did it. And they were fantastic. I later read the recipe and realized that each serving (I had two) were 666 calories a piece. Hmmm, coincidence? But I digress.

Over breakfast I got to open my two cards, one of which made me cry, it was so sweet.

He then had my sister pick me up and we went swimming, which is one of my favorite types of exercise although I’m awful at it, and afterward she took me out to lunch. Back home to hang out with the kids who had been napped and were in great moods, and then I was whisked off to an exotic belly dancing restaurant for dinner sans kids but accompanied by lots of fruity cocktails.

The entire day was planned by my hubby. And I was very grateful. Which made me amorous.

And it doesn’t have to be a day filled with lots of activities. The other night I was talking to one of my best girlfriends and walked in on my husband. He was on his knees, sorting my son’s toys into their respective bins and singing a “clean up” song to get my son to join him. I had to stop mid-conversation and tell her what was occurring right before my eyes. I said, “It’s kind of making me horny.” She said, “It’s kind of making ME horny.”

I now know why in all of those action movies when the hero saves the lead actress from certain death by a bomb, car or dinosaur, she can’t help herself and has to succumb to desire. I figure if cleaning and sorting my son’s toys would do it for me, what would I do if he saved me from physical harm? I dare not say.

The Born Identity

August 4, 2010

I was chatting with one of our friends, also a mom of two kids, at lunch this past weekend. She has much older kids – I think they’re 9 and 11 – and so I look to her for hope that one day I will be able to sit and hold a conversation with our friends and enjoy my food instead of bouncing around like a spring with a kid in a baby carrier trying to shovel noodles in my mouth every fifth bounce.

She had already identified all the ways that my son or daughter could be hurt or get into trouble, and with nary a word to each other ahead of time, our hands were meeting at the ends of sharp table corners and keeping small people from falling off chairs mid-sentence. She said, “You know, it never really goes away.”

I’ve decided it is the “Born Identity”. My favorite line from the first movie is: “I can tell you the license plate numbers of all six cars outside. I can tell you that our waitress is left-handed and the guy sitting up at the counter weighs two hundred and fifteen pounds and knows how to handle himself. I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab of the gray truck outside, and at this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking. Now why would I know that? How can I know that and not know who I am?”

From the moment my first child was born, I saw the world through different eyes. Danger where there was none before. Instead of license plates, I see people not paying attention to anything (or anyone) lower than waist height. Instead of the dominant hand of my waitress I see the grandfather who will help pop up one end of my stroller when I get off the subway car. Instead of the guy at the counter, the person who I should not sit next to at the restaurant because my daughter is about to go into “whine-only” mode, and instead of the gun, the pedophile at the park. And I know that at this current moment, in an emergency, I can grab my kids and get away to safety in 35 seconds flat.

I think moms really are kind of like secret agents. Often in high stress situations, we are constantly looking to problem solve, cobbling together solutions from whatever is available within arms reach. I often joke when I have particularly stellar moments of resourcefulness that I am “Mommy MacGyver”. I hope that I’m more MacGyver than MacGruber, but I have my days.

I do wonder sometimes if really pushed, I might find myself saying, like Liam Neeson did in Taken, “I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. Now lie down and take a nap before I Ferberize your behind.”

Why Drive Fifty Five

May 10, 2010

No, it’s not an endorsement by the national highway safety administration (although from a quick Google search driving 55 mph is great for general safety and gas mileage). It’s the edict that my five month old daughter handed down to me last week.

She has never been a big fan of the car, which was a surprise because that’s completely unlike my son. From the moment she was born she would scream off and on in the car, which made doing errands…challenging. Lately, though, she’s allowed me some random stretches of quiet (sometimes I even get some cooing), provided I am driving a minimum of 55 miles per hour. This has led my our babysitter to compare her to the bomb in the movie “Speed”.

It’s a pity that Keanu Reeves is missing from my vehicle while we try to figure out how to keep said “bomb” from going off.

As a second-time mom, I have to admit that the screaming has much less of an effect on me. My threshold for crying, knowing that she is not hungry or dirty but just doesn’t like the fact that we have to leave the house to gather sustenance, has increased considerably. But there is still a threshold. And once it is passed, I find myself taking deep breaths while she wails as if the world is ending and my son, unsure if I am actually aware that there is a situation in the backseat, says “Uh oh” repeatedly. It’s almost enough to make me wish that there was some sort of human bomb disarming robot that I could get my hands on. That would be really helpful during our car rides to and from Costco.

This recent development has resulted in my avoiding slowing down and really avoiding stopping the car whenever I can. For example, when there is a stop light coming up, knowing impending doom, I often will slow down about half a block ahead so that I can roll up to the light, hoping desperately that it will turn green again before I actually have to stop. One of my best girlfriends has a son who exhibits this same preference and says that when she sees a red light coming up she actually starts pumping the brakes in order to rock the car, also hoping to avoid the inevitable and wonders if passersby think that she suffers from the most extreme variety of DWA (Driving While Asian).

I will admit there are benefits. The other day someone with his top down and one of those fish indicating a strong commitment to Christianity on his car sped up and cut me off while blaring loud music from his convertible. The hypocrisy was too much for me. I rolled up next to him at the next light, timing detonation as the light was just turning red, and rolled down the window next to my daughter (who incidentally was lined up right next to the driver). He tried to inch away but there was nowhere to run unless he was willing to risk the two points on his driver’s license. I figure if I’ve got to listen to what’s going on in his car, it’s only fair…