Doing my part to disrupt the space-time continuum.

We walked side by side after the rain stopped. The park was almost entirely empty. I guess no one wants to  go for a walk right after it rains. He ran on ahead toward the creek.

The thing about 10 year old boys is that anything that’s gross, sticky, bloody or puky is THE most fascinating thing beyond all human reason. “Mom! Mom!” he yelled,  “LOOOOOOK! It’s a FRRRROGGGGGG!”

By the time I’d caught up, he was knelt down on one knee. “It’s deeeeaaaad,” he said in a low, slow and reverent tone as he poked the remains of the decedent with a stick.

It wasn’t just dead. That fucker was flat. Flat-Dead. Squished … as if  he’d gotten trampled by an entire HERD of bull frogs.

My son was spellbound by the crime scene. “Ew” he whispered, “Look at the guts.” I leaned in closer looking more at my son than the remains.

“Oh,” I said, trying to lighten the moment, “I’m sure the little guy is fine!” I nudged my son gently with my elbow. “Looks like its just sleeping,” I tried to coax a smile.

Silence fell. Blink – pause – blink.

“Mom…” he began as his voice grew frustrated, “Really?! I mean … No. Just … ugh … No! It is NOT sleeping … It’s deeaaad!” Poke. Poke.

“Aw, c’mon now! Don’t be so negative Mr. Gloomy Pants!” I encouraged. “Give the poor little guy the benefit of the doubt! Maybe he’s just tired or maaaaybeeee….” I said trying to rouse his sense of humor, “Mayyybeee he just got back from a huge frog party and he needs some time to recuperate? You know … take a nice little shower? Maybe knock back a juicy quarter-pounder … with cheese?”

Blank looks on 10-year-olds are hard to ignore when they last 6 hours. It’s even harder when you can clearly see the wheels turning as they inwardly battle the inevitable, horrible truth: That they share YOUR DNA. Finally, he broke the silence,  “Do you SEE that gray stuff? I’m like a thousand per cent sure it’s his brains.” Poke.   

I was determined to make that kid laugh, even in the face of the gruesome scene that lay before us.  “Well … that doesn’t mean he’s not okay in a manner of speaking,” I began. “I mean, you could wear him as a hat or maybe you guys could hang out and play Wii? Look!” I said as I used a twig to lift what I think was a leg, “He’s flat enough that I bet you could use him as a Debit Card! You know …  you could do a little shopping…?”

I bit my lip and waited for a grin, a chuckle … a something… but no. He sat back on the concrete in utter defeat with his head in his hands. All hope was lost. His mother would never be anything other than weird and that frog would ever be anything other than dead.

I put my hand on my despondent little guy’s shoulder and proceeded tenderly, “Son … Seriously… Never mind what I just said … ” Slowly  he raised his head and met my eyes. “Honey … Dead frogs don’t make good Debit Cards … just trust me on this one.”

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Something about being a dismal failure as a Mom has me feeling a little down this morning.

Is it the fact that my son’s 5th grade math assignment appears to be written in some secret, anti-mother code leaving me feeling inept and completely void of brain function? Maybe it’s that I found such a BRILLIANT place to stash his Red  Math Folder last week that there’s no way in flippin’ Hades that we’ll EVER find it so he can return it to his teacher. It COULD be that I realized that he wore the same pair of socks 2 days in a row … leaving me suspicious about his underwear!

I hate math. I’ve hated math since 7th grade when Mrs. Keyes humiliated me in front of the whole class over some stooopid fraction of a number that lacked the moxie to be a whole one. It wasn’t MY fault! It was the sad, tired, pathetic little handicapped numbers fault …  all snivelly and crying like a baby, “Who will complete me? Whaa whaa whaa!”

Well, to Hell with ALL the fractions and their common denominators! Damn all the halves and three-quarters and whole-number wannabes that limp around on the pages of ugly old math books covered in boogers and snot stains! Maybe if they’d keep their smelly little hands and feet INSIDE the parenthesis, they wouldn’t get all busted up in little bits and pieces, forever separated from their disgusting other halves, or one-thirds or … whatever!

I think 5th grade math is mean. If 5th grade math had a birthday, I wouldn’t buy it a present.  AND if 5th grade math had a  party, I wouldn’t go. AND if 5th grade math DID have a party and didn’t invite me, I WOULD go and I would put a dead frog in a box and give it to 5th grade math as a present. But I’d break off one leg so that it was only a FRACTION of a dead frog.

Not the WHOLE collection … just some of it.

But it MIGHT change a cold night.

On nights like tonight, when the weather is ugly to everyone (even babies and puppies), I think about homeless people. Can’t help it. Even in my deliberate attempt to self-medicate through a selfish act of indulgence (a hot bath) and self-serving wastefulness (extra bath salts), I fail to numb the sadness I feel when I picture some runaway sitting alone under a bridge in the cold.

While I’m busy attending to my routine of personal hygiene, taking my hot baths and toothbrush for granted and wondering if my daily rinse with hydrogen peroxide and water is going to blow my head up, there’s someone at that moment who’d give anything for a toothbrush. They might even risk having their head blown up if it meant a fresh, minty mouth. I probably would.

All this contemplation has reminded me of something that happened one winter almost a decade ago.

Every week, my 12-year-old daughter and I made a trip into Atlanta for an appointment with her doctor. On one trip, we saw a homeless guy standing on the off-ramp of I-85 with a sign that said NEED FOOD. My daughter wondered out loud,”How does he stay warm? Or brush his teeth? Or keep from stinking?”

“He doesn’t,” was all I could say. How do you explain to your kid that there are over 20,000 people in your city alone that have no place to call home? That they wash in gas station bathrooms, wear filthy clothes and eat from trashcans? What’s the word homeless mean to a kid like mine? What’s it mean to ME?

The next week, we saw another guy at that same exit with a similar sign. It was even colder and the sky threatened to rain.  From that moment, it was as if all those invisible homeless folks suddenly became visible, popping out of every corner as we made our way past the usual landmarks. Kinda like when you buy a new car and then you start noticing that kind of car everywhere. Only awful and overwhelming and without the new car smell.

Once you see them – you see them. And they can’t be erased. Especially the shadows you take to bed with you at night. Theirs are the shadows that don’t get lost in the dark. Not even when you pull your heavy comforter over your head. They aren’t to be forgotten, either.

My daughter certainly didn’t forget. Two days later she bopped into my bedroom with three old backpacks over her shoulder and announced, “Operation Backpack.”

“Huh?”

“Operation Backpack!” she repeated.

Then she told me her plan to collect old backpacks and fill each one with a bar of soap, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a bottle of water, socks, gloves … stuff like that. “Then,” she said, “we’ll keep the backpacks in the car for our weekly trips into town. Next time we see someone at the exit or when we stop at a stop sign, we’ll hand them a backpack out the window!”

I was speechless. Honored. Awake. Aware.

We spent the remainder of that winter implementing Operation Backpack and you know what? It didn’t make a damned difference  to the thousands of homeless people in Atlanta or to ANY people in Atlanta for that matter …

Except to seven.

Two of those seven were me and my daughter.

I did NOT brave the perils of Black Friday, but I did venture out into Crazy Shopping Land ever-so-gingerly on Saturday. It was disturbing.

In spite of the title, I do love Leggings. They rock. You put on a long shirt or sweater, slip on a pair of Leggings and some cool, hot, sexy boots or shoes and by golly, 48 looks GREAT and the world rotates more smoothly just so you can walk it without falling on your pushing-50 fat ass.

But when that sweater or shirt does NOT cover the bum that’s stuffed in tight Leggings, you catapult yourself and your Leggings into a world where Leggings become ASSINGS.

Leggings are called Leggings for a reason. They are intended to show ONLY your legs as opposed to the butt cheeks. I’d bet my 3rd child and every ounce of that left-over turkey rotting in my fridge that the designer of Leggings said to herself upon the day of the Leggings conception, “Hey. I shall create this tight, clingy, flesh-hugging leg wear for people who want to COVER the derriere with camouflaging outer wear. Rather than accentuate the butt-crack, flabby fanny flesh or sagging, flailing ass blobs – my creation will HIDE those great Continental Divides.” That’s what she said. She did. I just know it.

LEGGINGS ... not ASSINGS!!

While out shopping Saturday, I saw no less that 6 women wearing Assings where Leggings should have been! And I was only out there in the wild jungle of shopping hell for 1 hour and 46 minutes! And NO … I was NOT at Walmart where the Seniors at the entrance pass out Assings and request patrons to wear them while shopping.

I was not happy. Not happy at all.

Now look at what Assings has made me do …  I’m forced to drink heavily. See? I told you this was “Serious Stuff”.

photo by fliker’s kiwinky

I named my vacuum Mrs. Nesbitt.

Mrs. Nesbitt has been an integral part of my life for almost 10 years now. The moment I met her, I had to have her, so I shelled out almost $400 to make her mine.

Mrs. Nesbitt is not just ANY vacuum; She’s MY vacuum and I love her. She’s a part of our family and a valuable, contributing member.

I named my new vacuum Mrs. Nesbitt because I felt it a fitting name for such a fine machine.  It’s a fun name to say and mildly entertaining to think about when your only excitement for the day is housework. But beyond the sheer fun of it, naming your vacuum actually serves a purpose!

Number 1: Naming your vacuum can make your day sound more interesting.

For instance, when one of my friends with an exciting life asks me, “Hey, TeeeRay, what’d YOU do today?” in a manner that suggests that perhaps MY day was inferior to THEIR day, I can answer with enthusiasm, “Oh, I had an INCREDIBLE time with my wild and wacky friend Mrs. Nesbitt!” And when they look all impressed and interested, I can make up something super awesome so it sounds like I had THE MOST EXCITING day EVER!

Number 2: Naming your vacuum helps motivate your peeps to USE it with enthusiasm.

Think about it: Which phrase do you think would solicit the most favorable response?

A. “Honey, please run that boring, dead-skin-cell-sucking gray cylinder over this despicable, disgusting, disease-infested carpet,”

OR…

B. “Honey, Mrs. Nesbitt would delight in the pleasure of your company as you boogie-oogie-woogie together across the living room rug to her favorite Bieber tunes.”

My peeps routinely respond better to the latter request. Yes … they roll their eyes and Yes … they express their distrust in a personified vacuum cleaner but more importantly, they run the damned thing with little or no resistance and sometimes with a silly grin and a kind word directed toward Mrs. N.

I highly recommend naming your vacuum and any other appliance in your home that your peeps typically resist using. They will find it strangely amusing enough to pitch in and somewhat psychologically disturbing – which is the best part and a total perk.

Ok … how about it? What will you name your vacuum?

When your kid is sick … You make him pancakes…

In the shape of a toilet.

And then you add raisins.

To look like turds.

Because he feels badly.

And because YOU CARE DEEPLY.

And you want nothing more than for him to feel better.

Even at the cost of  your culinary dignity.

Cuz we’re moms … and THAT’s how we roll.