What Has Been Seen… Cannot Be Unseen

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I’m running the risk today of coming across as an old lady. You know the kind, the ones who start sentences with, “Back in my day…” and the younger people she’s talking to just roll their eyes.

But seriously… back in my day, we didn’t have the internet. I feel like that’s important to remember in the course of this discussion. Ok, it’s not really a discussion, because that would require two-way communication, but you get my gist. When I was growing up, the access to the disgusting, scary elements of the world was severely limited. MTV played only music videos, the raunchiest of which was a fully-dressed (In lingerie, but still) Madonna strutting around singing about being “Like a Virgin.” I used to turn the volume down, because if my father heard someone singing about virgins, and it wasn’t a Christmas carol, that would be the end of MTV in my house. The Disney channel played cartoons and  “The Mickey Mouse Club”- the original with Annette Funicello, not the one with Britney and JT. We had books and magazines. And we had our imaginations.

I grew up in a fairly conservative family, in a conservative small town. We went to church most Sundays, and I went to a private Christian elementary school. I wasn’t just your average 1980’s kid naïve, I was NAIVE Naïve.

I remember hearing a dirty joke at a sleepover in the 5th grade that I laughed at as if I knew what it meant, but didn’t really understand it until high school.

My husband says I’m still pretty naïve. I think what he means is that my nature is to assume everything and everyone are as they appear, that I’m not savvy to the ways of the world. Often I’ll be shocked to discover something, only to find out pretty much everyone else already knew it. Sometimes I will hear something, and respond, “That’s a THING?!?” To which the response will be a shake of their head, and a roll of the eyes.

For example, Parker’s Little League T-Ball coach from two seasons ago. At the first practice of the season, I noticed he seemed really high energy and a little frenzied. I figured he, being the owner of an energy supplement company, was simply partaking too much of his own product. Turns out, no. The look of condescending pity on the faces of the other parents as they helped me understand that it was cocaine that was causing his behavior was a little humiliating. (But it did explain his mid-season ‘trip’ aka rehab.) It just never occurred to me. Sadly, his story did not end well. Drugs are a very bad thing.

So, you get it. I’m naïve. I’m just not so sure that’s a bad thing.

I decided a long time ago that filling my mind with images that are icky left me feeling, well, icky. I tend to avoid watching movies or shows where there is a horror component or gross-out humor. My husband has taken to censoring movies for me, telling me, “Trust me, you don’t want to see this.”

When “Borat” came out a few years ago, everyone was talking about it. Guess whose husband told her she couldn’t see it? Yep, me. He knows me well enough to know that I’d be mad at him and mad at myself if I saw it, because what has been seen, cannot be unseen.

33143461 Truth in advertising

When I was in the 7th grade, I went to a group sleepover at my friend’s house. This friend’s parents were much more liberal than mine, and had no issue with us watching movies we really shouldn’t have been watching. She liked horror movies, and I wanted to be cool. I can’t remember which movie we saw first, I think it was “Friday the 13th.” I had nightmares for a week. I kept seeing faces wearing hockey masks out my bedroom window. But did that stop me from watching more? Nope. I saw them all… “Children of The Corn,” “Nightmare on Elm St,” all the Stephen King stuff, and I have a vague recollection of something called “Pumpkinhead.” A lot of these movies also had sex scenes, as a couple was inevitably murdered whilst in the act. So I was exposing myself to all kinds of gross stuff.

And the thing is- I can still see it, in my mind, nearly 30 years later. Because once something is seen, it cannot be unseen.

I remember a long time ago, like 20 years ago, Jeff and I watched a scary movie together. I don’t remember a lot about it, but there was some doomsday cult involved, and a lot of violence and terror. I think the scariest part, though, was the evil component. We went to bed, and both tossed and turned, but neither wanted to admit we were freaked out. Finally he said, “I have to go watch something funny to take my mind off of what I just saw.” I was hugely relieved.

So recently, when I found out that Zoe had “accidentally” watched a rated R horror movie at her friend’s house, I was pretty unhappy about it. It’s hard enough these days keeping kids from seeing things on the internet, but I would like to believe that when my children are in someone else’s home, those parents have the same values, or at least respect mine when it comes to what I do and do not want my kids seeing.

Unfortunately, not only is that not always the case, many times the parents aren’t even there. Older siblings either don’t pay attention or think it’s cool to expose younger kids to shocking things.

A couple weeks ago, Zoe went to a sleepover at another friend’s house, and one of the girls suggested telling scary stories. I didn’t find out about this from Zoe, but from one of the other girls’ moms. Her daughter had been having trouble sleeping for a week as a result of the stories told, some of which were from my own daughter.

When I asked her about it, she admitted to me that she had told a story that one of her friend’s brothers had told them, something about an evil guy breaking into a house and licking someone’s arm from under the bed. The story itself wasn’t totally awful, but I can see how an 8 year old girl could get nervous about a bad guy being under her bed after hearing it. Zoe said that when the story time was brought up, she and her other friend had said that they didn’t like scary stuff, and didn’t want to do it, but they were chided as being babies, and nobody wants to be called a baby at a group sleepover.

As she retold how the night went down, she started crying and admitted that she has been having bad dreams as a result of the movie she watched at her friend’s house, and some of the scary stories she’s heard.

I asked her, “If you are scared, and have bad dreams, why would you put those same icky thoughts into the minds of your friends? Why would you want to create fear in someone you consider a friend?”

please-dont-feed-your-fears-korakor-413x1024 Or the fears of others…

She told me she hadn’t thought about that, and she just started sobbing. She begged me to apologize to her friend’s mom for her.

We can’t monitor our kids every minute of the day, and we can’t expect that other parents will share our values. Our job as parents isn’t to shelter our kids, so much as to prepare them to make choices. We need to be actively explaining to them why we don’t want them watching gross, scary stuff. We need to help them understand what it means that “Things that have been seen, cannot be unseen,” so that when confronted with those options, they choose not to see; So that they know and understand why it’s so important to keep their minds free of the icky of this world.

I think we sometimes forget that, even though our kids may act like they are wise to the ways of the world, that’s only because they aren’t. Yes, they are exposed to more violence, more sexuality and more fear-based entertainment than I ever was as a kid- and that’s just on Nick and Disney Channel, which are supposedly created for kids. However, their minds are still pretty pure and untainted. Let’s keep them that way for as long as possible.

Since what has been seen cannot be unseen, let’s expose them to beauty, and inspirational stories, and things that cause them to search out the good in others, fully expecting to find it. Let’s guide their natural curiosity to the wonders of the world, not its nasty underbelly.

Cynics may say naïveté is a bad thing, but I disagree. I think exposing our minds, or our children’s minds to scary stuff changes their world view- not to a more realistic one, but to one in which they expect bad things to happen. Filtering what they see, and helping them self-filter, doesn’t leave them ill-prepared, it gives them higher expectations of others. I’ve found that having higher expectations of people, gives them an opportunity to rise to those expectations.

There’s an old saying, “garbage in, garbage out.” I believe that to be true, and it’s a lesson I think is important to teach our children. Maybe even ourselves.

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I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me

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About a month ago a box arrived. From Amazon, of course. (Where else?) I opened it to discover two computer cameras. I didn’t think a lot of it, until my husband came home later that day.

“What’s with the cameras?”

“I am putting one up in the office to keep an eye on things when I’m not there.”

“What about the other one?”

“I’m putting that one up at our front door.”

“Why?”

“Security.”

“Well, you might want to think twice about that. I just read an article about hackers breaking into the online feed and watching people through their baby monitors.”

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2013/08/baby-monitor-hacking-alarms-houston-parents/

“I just want to be able to keep an eye on things when no one is home. You can access it from anywhere in the world.”

“Yeah, so can the hackers.”

The cameras stayed in their boxes for a few weeks, and I figured that idea had gone the way of the dodo.

Last week I was sitting at the desk typing my blog and I suddenly heard a clicking sound. It took me a minute to figure out where it was coming from. I looked over near the printer and there, sitting on top, was this:

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It was aimed right at the computer where I was typing. The red lights were on and as I moved my face in front of it, it clicked again.

I sent a text to my husband.

“Are you spying on me?”

No response.

“Seriously. The security camera is plugged in, and it keeps clicking.”

Again, nothing.

I stuck my face in the camera.

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No text. Either he didn’t see me, or he wasn’t gonna own up to it.

I decided to put a hat over it.

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That’ll show him.

When I finally talked to him that afternoon, he insisted that he had plugged it in to see how it worked, but that it wasn’t really hooked up, and he wasn’t spying on me. He told me to unplug it.

I’m not convinced that SOMEONE wasn’t watching me. Those clicks sure sounded like a camera taking pictures.

Maybe our camera was hacked. After all, the viral scan we ran the next day came up with 82 viruses. (Kids- please don’t click on anything that says “100 One Direction ring tones” or “video game cheats.” Trust me on this.)

I started thinking about what someone who hacked our surveillance camera might witness, and the thought wasn’t pretty.

Here’s a sample of what might be viewed on an average day:

8:10am- I amble down the stairs in my “Kiss Me I’m Irish” t-shirt and boxer briefs. There’s a 50/50 chance I have mascara smudged under my eyes and my newly trimmed bangs look like this:

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8:20am- After several calls upstairs, Parker races down like Speedy Gonzales- on amphetamines- and Zoe clomps downstairs like an elephant who has just awoken from a coma.

8:25-8:40am- Arguments ensue about who has to put the milk away. I debate putting it away myself VS making both of them put it away as a team. I also consider bonking their heads together.

8:55 ish- Parker comes downstairs wearing clothing that is mismatched and weather inappropriate. I send him back upstairs for socks, which I have filled his drawer with the night before. In spite of the balled up matches that are plentiful to choose from, he comes down wearing one knee high dark green sock, and one white ankle sock with a football on it. I relent. I send him back up to brush his teeth, which takes way longer than it should because he refuses to try the new toothpaste and insists on standing on the 99.999% empty old toothpaste tube in order to extract the last remaining scintilla.

9:05am- I am yelling for Zoe who has not been seen or heard from, but is now calling down asking me to make her a lunch… 5 minutes after she was supposed to have left for school.

9:06am- I push them both out the door. An imperceptible twinge of guilt for not walking them to school crosses my face, and leaves as quickly as it came.

9:06- 9:30- I sit at the computer and drink coffee while perusing Facebook. Wait, did I say 9:30? I mean 10:30. 10:45. 11.

Throughout the course of the day I may be seen sitting on top of Mt. Laundry moving clothes from the washer to the dryer, as my back issues have made bending over to load and unload difficult. The good news is that the higher the laundry pile, the easier it is to reach the shelves where I keep the light bulbs and extra trash bags. Laziness meets ingenuity. Who needs a step ladder?

I have about an hour of productivity as the caffeine kicks in, where I’m like Magda from “There’s Something About Mary.”

magdahttp://klipd.com/watch/theres-something-about-mary/magda-cleaning-scene

Around 1230 I rummage through the pantry looking for something to eat. Finding nothing, I grab a handful of dry cereal and shove it into my mouth and head to the fridge. Not being a leftover person, I usually don’t see anything there either, and make the decision to get dressed and go out.

Around 1 I throw on Jeans or yoga pants, depending on whether I have decided to go through a drive-thru or actually walk into a restaurant. If it’s jeans, it’s probably the loose-fitting capris I bought two sizes too big when I was pms’ing last month and felt like a whale. This will likely result in a moon shot towards the camera as I bend over to pick something up and my pants fall down. I don’t like belts.

At about 3:15 I come bursting through the door with grocery bags. I have 5 minutes to unload the groceries and get the perishables in the fridge before I have to pick up Zoe and Parker from school.

At 3:23 (3 minutes late) I go racing back out the door.

At 3:40 Parker comes in, throws down his backpack, slips off his shoes in the middle of the entry way, and heads for the step, where he will sit in the time-out he earned walking home from school.

Zoe and I walk through 2 minutes later and one or both of us will likely be the recipients of a stuck-out tongue from the time-out zone. One of us will ignore him, the other will respond in kind. I’ll let you guess who.

At 415 I receive a text from Nathan asking to be picked up from tennis. This necessitates me getting back in the car. Zoe and Parker convince me they can be left unsupervised for the 10 minutes I will be gone. (Dear Hackers, if at all possible, could you email me the footage you captured between 420 and 430? Thanks!)

At 445 there is a great amount of chaos as either Zoe, Parker or both need to get dressed for soccer practice. Parker insists that he has no clean soccer socks in his drawer. It takes him 3 unsuccessful attempts before I go upstairs and find them on the first try.

I tell him we are going to be late, he tells me, “It’s your fault if we’re late.”

I ask, “How do you figure?”

He responds, “If you weren’t making me go to soccer, I wouldn’t be LATE for soccer.”

Infallible logic.

At around 7 or 730 we all come stumbling through the door again. I try to figure out what edible thing can be cooked in 20 minutes. There’s crying at the kitchen table as Zoe attempts to do her homework. Dinner is loud and boisterous, there’s  usually a standoff with Parker over what he will or will not eat, with threats of no dessert.

At about 830 I try to escape upstairs and my husband, sitting at the desk in the living room says, “Where do you think you’re going?”

“Laundry.” I answer.

Whenever I want to escape the chaos of the kitchen, I say I need to put away laundry. And it’s always true, so that’s convenient.

Most nights things in view of the camera have settled down by 930. Unless, of course, Sydney and her friends show up. That’s usually about the time they want to start watching movies or marathons of old episodes of “One Tree Hill.”

At about 10 you might see Jeff and I sneaking down for a late night treat. Sometimes I hide the best stuff for after the kids have gone to bed. I don’t feel one bit guilty. (Tip- I have found that hiding anything in the laundry room ensures no one but me will ever know it’s there.)

So there you have it. Probably not worth hacking into our online surveillance cam account.

In a few weeks we have to stay in a hotel while our hardwoods are refinished. Jeff wants to set up a camera in our bedroom to see if the workers go where they aren’t supposed to. I kinda hope they do. Maybe they’ll try on my lingerie and wear it around the house.

Somebody should.

 

 

 

 

 

What Danny Bonaduce, Guinness Book of World Records And Colin Kaepernick’s Eyebrow All Have In Common

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See that girl? That’s me ## years ago. Let’s just say when this picture was taken the first Bush was prez, NKOTB were “Hangin’ Tough” in the #1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100, and I often rocked overalls with one strap hanging off my shoulder.

I was a cheerleader.

I know; any of you who have seen my dancing “skills” are stunned by this news.

I didn’t become a cheerleader because I wanted to dance poorly in a short skirt that showed my 17 year old thighs had already started accumulating cellulite. I became a cheerleader because I wanted to be part of what I consider one of the greatest experiences in the world-American football.

I can’t even remember a time when I wasn’t a football fan. My grandfather was a huge sports fan who attended USC on a baseball scholarship and he passed on his love of sports to my mother, who, in turn, passed it on to her three daughters.

My grandmother, who also attended USC, was a society girl. Her father was L. A. County manager when Los Angeles hosted the Olympics in 1932. My grandmother told me that American football made its world-wide debut at those Olympic games. She said that she and her sister Jane were going crazy cheering at the game while surrounded by foreign dignitaries who had never even seen the sport before, and thought the girls were acting un-ladylike.

I guess you can say a love of football is in the genes.

One of my earliest memories was Superbowl XIV in January 1980. The Los Angeles Rams lost to my least favorite team, The Pittsburgh Steelers. (Ironically, the same team my Seattle Seahawks would lose their only Super bowl to.) We had moved up from Southern Cal a year and a half before and were Rams fans. We had a huge super bowl party.  Our team lost, but I was hooked on the football experience. Not long after, we became Seahawk fans, a true test of loyalty endurance.

Later that year we moved into the small farm town where I spent the rest of my childhood. The best thing about living in a small town was the way the whole community would come together on a Friday night to cheer on the high school football and basketball teams. I did a cheer clinic in the 3rd grade so that I could perform at halftime. (We danced to “Mickey.”) As a young girl I sat in the stands, rooting on the panthers decked out in red and white. EVERYBODY was at the games.

I remember being in 5th grade and making plans at third recess to meet up with the boy I had a crush on at the snack bar. We “went steady” from first quarter until 3rd quarter when he said something idiotic and I “broke up” with him.  And junior high- phew. I don’t even want to go into it, but those Friday night games were more dramatic than any soap opera.

I tried out for cheer at the end of my sophomore year of high school, but didn’t make it. ( see my previous post http://kbjackson.com/anything-i-can-do-you-can-do-better-musings-on-an-average-life/ ) It was tough because I had envisioned myself being an SHS cheerleader since I was 8 years old. I tried again my junior year, and did make it.

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I was also named “Most likely to become an obnoxious politician.” 1 out of 2 ain’t bad, right? My cohort in the pic became a United States Assistant Attorney. I wouldn’t be surprised if politics is in his future. He missed the 20 year reunion, so I have no idea if he’s still obnoxious. Probably.

While my dance skills and coordination may have been subpar- I was still a valuable asset to the squad. I was the only one who knew ANYTHING about football.

See that picture at the top of the page? Notice that all the girls are facing the crowd. What am I doing? I’m watching the game. It was always about the game for me.

Sometimes one of the girls would say, “Hey, let’s do “push ’em back!” And I would say, “That’s a defensive cheer. We’re on offense.” I became the advisor- If they didn’t know what was going on or if a cheer was appropriate for what was happening on the field, I was the go-to girl.

During my senior year I began applying to colleges. My top choice was USC, as I was a legacy there. They also had been to the Rose Bowl 3 years running, winning 2 of 3. When I went down to spend the weekend on campus to check it out, everyone talked about how amazing it was to go to the games. I wanted to be a part of it- I couldn’t wait.

My back-up schools looked like losers in comparison. Funny to think I was making decisions about my education and future based on who had the best football team, but I was.

In May of my senior year, right before graduation, my father was laid off from his job. There would be no private college in California for me. I reluctantly accepted my fate to attend the University of Washington, but insisted I wasn’t gonna like it. I planned on commuting from home and going to classes, but I wasn’t going to make any attempts to connect. It was my 18 year old version of a tantrum.

Prior to the start of the school year, UW played USC. It was a beautiful late September day. Our friend took us on his boat out onto lake Washington. After sailing around, we moored near the stadium and took a water taxi in. My grandfather was decked out in his USC jacket. I think I wore nothing to indicate allegiance. Still pouting.

That gorgeous sunny day in Seattle, USC was routed by Washington 31-0. And suddenly I knew I was part of something special. I insisted on picking up my first UW sweatshirt, which I still have to this day.

That year Washington went on to defeat Iowa in the Rose Bowl, and the following year were named co-national champions with Miami. It was a great time to be a football fan at the University of Washington. I became a Husky for life.

On a side note, I’m thankful that I didn’t end up at USC. Besides the fact that the incessant USC fight song makes my ears bleed, I would have missed out on meeting some amazing people if I hadn’t gone to UW that I am so grateful to have in my life.

My husband and I lived out of state for 10 years. During that time we remained loyal Seattle Seahawk fans. (He is not a big fan of UW) It’s been a tough road being a Seahawk fan. Over the years, we’ve had brushes with greatness (the Largent years, Shawn Alexander and the 2006 Super bowl), and a lot more brushes with defeat. But this year- I can feel it. THIS is our year.

Last Saturday a message went out on Facebook that volunteers were needed to work a VIP event at the Pyramid Alehouse across from Century Link stadium. I jumped at the chance. I didn’t have tickets to the Seahawks season home opener against rival San Francisco, but this was the next best thing.

Several months back, an organization called “Volume 12” http://officialvolume12.com/ decided to prove that the Seahawks have the best fans, and go after the World Record for loudest crowd cheer. The record was previously held by a stadium in Turkey, I believe for a soccer match. The decibels to beat were 131.7. Once the movement started, it kept gaining momentum. This tailgate party was to get people excited for the game and to prepare for the record attempt.

They had local entertainment acts like Loretta Lynn’s granddaughter.

They had Danny Bonaduce:

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They had a VIP tent with blackberry cabernet and tequila lime sorbets from Seattle Sorbet http://www.seattle-sorbets.com/ (seriously yummy)

and cupcakes decorated just for the occasion:

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I worked the merchandise booth for the first few hours of the party. I had a great view of the crazy costumes coming through the gates.

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imageI love how the angle of this pic makes it look like Mr Mohawk is holding Joe Tafoya in his arms.

image I’m not sure what this guy’s deal was. I believe it may have been a fur coat intended to appear like the feathers of a hawk.

image The Rooster. Not a Seahawk, but a chicken. Which may mean he misunderstands that when people call us the “Seachickens” it’s not a compliment.

And then a funny thing happened.

A man came through the gates and met up with Joe Tafoya, head of Volume 12. He was sharply dressed, and was accompanied by a beautiful well-dressed woman. The crowd started to buzz.

I turned to the guy working in the booth next to me and said, “Who is that?”

He said, “I have no idea. But people are acting like he’s somebody.”

I took a picture and sent it to my mom. She always knows who is who on Seattle’s sport teams.

I watched for a bit, and became convinced that this guy must be a former Seahawk player. Based on his age and size, I figured he was probably a player from the 1980’s. I watched people follow him around, pointing excitedly. I saw a couple guys go up to him and ask to get their picture taken with him.

I walked up to where they were huddled over their camera phones and said, “Hey, who was the guy you were getting your picture taken with?”

They said, “We aren’t sure. We’re googling his picture. We think it’s Mack Strong.”

Well, I knew it wasn’t Mack Strong.

This is Mack Strong:

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Mack Strong is a 6ft tall former fullback. He’s 42.

This is the person at the party:

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This is Nesby Glasgow, former Seahawks safety. He’s 5’10 and 56 years old.

Nasby Glasgow had a great career with the Seahawks following his time with the Colts. He’s worth getting his picture taken with, and he deserves the respect of people knowing his name.

What struck me was the desire to be in contact with a perceived celebrity was so great, people didn’t even know or care who they were getting their picture taken with. It kind of reminded me of that time some people grabbed a regular guy, added some fake fans and paparazzi, and soon everyone on the street wanted their pic with this “famous person.” It was a hoax. And they all fell for it.

I turned to the guy next to me. “You know, we’re all a bunch of lemmings.”

He nodded and laughed.

While in the VIP tent later on I noticed a guy who looked an awful lot like Richard Sherman (this week’s NFC defensive player of the week). It turned out to be his brother, Branton. I posted this picture on facebook:

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And everyone thought I had gotten my picture taken with Richard. When I revealed it was his brother, the response was still positive. People said getting your picture taken with the brother of Richard Sherman is almost as good as the real thing. Not to say Branton isn’t a real person. He is. In fact you can follow him on twitter https://twitter.com/branton_sherman . And actually he’s  prettier than his brother if I’m being completely honest.

One day I will write a whole blog about our obsession with celebrity. Today is not that day.

I got distracted by Branton… where was I? Oh yeah. The game. The World Record. And the bet.

Leading up to the game, word got out that Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick had a bet on the game- losing QB would have to shave off one of their eyebrows. After a 29-3 demolition of the 49’ers, we all waited in anticipation for the reveal of a one eye-browed Colin Kaepernick. And then this-

eyebrows-gal_20130910144034753_600_400 (Is it just me, or is Russell still adorable with only one eyebrow?)

http://msn.foxsports.com/lacesout/what-a-shock-wilsonkaepernick-eyebrow-bet-was-a-hoax/

Like the twerking girl who caught on fire, it was all a promotional hoax. Boo for hoaxes. Don’t tease me with thoughts of a one-eye browed Colin Kaepernick and then not deliver.

And finally…the record. Would we do it? COULD we do it?

We did it. The 12th man fans of the Seattle Seahawks set a World Record Sunday night for loudest crowd noise. 136.6. It was verified by this guy :

image I’m sure you can tell the guy on the right is the British judge sent by Guinness. On the left is Volume 12’s Joe Tafoya

In spite of thunder rumbling and lightning crackling near the field, and a one hour severe weather delay, the record was broken. Twice, actually.

The fans were such a factor in the game that one whiny couple from San Francisco actually likened the crowd noise to illegal steroids and proposed penalties such as “The visiting team may stop the game when fan noise is greater than a specified decibel level, and should this rule be violated in more than three games, no home games will be played at the offending field for the rest of the season, including playoff games.”

http://msn.foxsports.com/lacesout/awww-49ers-fans-are-sad-over-all-that-scawwwy-crowd-noise/

I laughed because it sounded like a joke. It wasn’t.

Whining or not, what a great game. What an exciting day to be a part of.

Ah, football. I love you. I love the crisp fall game days, I love the feeling of community amongst the fans, I love watching great players execute amazing plays. I love long passes and goal line stands. I love breakaway runs and the acrobatic catches. I love watching a team work as a team, get inspired by each other, and play with a passion for the game they have played since they were little boys. I love the look on the face of a guy who has realized his dreams. I love a good rivalry and I love when the underdog defies expectations.

I love this game.

Go Huskies!

Go Hawks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I know It’s Important To You, Mom, But It’s Not Important To Me.”

Those words are immortalized in my family. When I was just 3 years old and my mother was asking me why I hadn’t made my bed after she had told me to, I uttered (probably with my hands on my hips), “I know it’s important to you, mom, but it’s not important to me.”

My mom says she knew she was in deep trouble at that moment.

A couple years ago, I had a similar sinking feeling after an encounter with Zoe. At the time I believe she was 6 or 7.

Zoe came in and saw the glass cleaner on the counter. She asked if she could clean the glass doors, which I had cleaned just a little while earlier. I told her she could. She then proceeded to go around cleaning every piece of glass and mirror that she could find downstairs. She came back into the kitchen and asked what else she could clean. I told her she should clean her bathroom mirror upstairs.

She said, “How much are you going to pay me?”

“What?”

“How much are you going to pay me for all the work I’m doing? You have to pay me.”

I said, “But you volunteered!”

She said, “I did all this work, so you need to pay me.”

I said, “Fine. I’ll pay you a dollar.”

She said, “A dollar?!? For ALL this work?”

“Well how much do you think is fair, Zoë?”

“10 dollars.”

“You’re crazy.”

“Fine. 5 dollars.”

I said, “How about you go clean the mirror and then I will decide if it’s worth 5 dollars.”

She stomped upstairs and about 2 minutes later I heard a loud thump, followed by crying. I ran up to see what had happened, and she’d fallen off the counter and hurt her knee. I carried her downstairs to the couch, got her an icepack, and handed her the TV remote. She looked up at me with tears in her eyes and said, “You’re still gonna pay me right?”

Housework can kill you if done right.”
―     Erma Bombeck

The topic of household chores has been on the forefront of my mind the past couple weeks. Last week I wrote a blog about motherhood. ( http://kbjackson.com/am-i-a-good-mom-an-honest-answer-to-a-scary-question/ ) Sydney surprised me by telling me that she wished that I had given her more responsibilities, had more structure and discipline.

Of course I want the help. I’m no martyr. I don’t love doing laundry. I am as grossed out by other people’s dirty dishes as anyone in this family.

I have 5 other people in this house who are perfectly capable of helping me. Of course, I also have 5 people in this house who have eyes and should be capable of seeing what needs to be done, but apparently they need to be asked. Sydney told me that she was willing to help as a kid, she recognized the need, but she wanted me to ask her. I told her that I wanted people to step up without being asked, but then I realized that my job as a mom is to instill that in my kids.

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The truth is- I hate having to ask for help. With a passion.

Asking for help feels like an admission of weakness. Asking for help feels like I’m shirking my responsibilities.

From a very young age I have prided myself on my self-sufficiency, but what I have started to understand this week is that by doing everything for my kids instead of teaching them and requiring them to do things for themselves and the others in this house, I am depriving THEM of the ability to become self-sufficient.

I recently had a conversation with a friend who told me their kids don’t do chores. They were asking if that was typical, because back when we were kids, everybody did chores. It was part of every day life. You came home from school, and you were responsible for SOMETHING. Maybe it was walking the dog, or helping with dinner. Sometimes it was just cleaning our rooms.

I read the “Little House on the Prairie” books. They had chores.

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They had to wash dishes by hand in a bucket, sweep dirt floors and do laundry by rubbing their clothes against a washboard.

I’m pretty sure that on “Leave it to Beaver” the kids had chores, although, after watching this little clip, perhaps not.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sam9wP_uMEA

0 “Men cook outdoors, women stay indoors”

My kids don’t have a regular chore schedule. Over the years I have attempted to create a regular chore schedule, and I have been met with resistance.

image They graffitti’d all over my chore chart.

image “Wait- our dad is Asian?”- I never claimed to be an artist.

My husband already figured this delegation thing out- he’s had Nathan mowing the lawn for 2 years. Now he’s down to taking out the trash, and I think he’s trying to get Nathan to take that on as well.

So, inspired by Sydney’s declaration that I robbed her of self-confidence by not giving her chores, I decided I would start by assigning each kid a night to be responsible for dinner.

I started with Parker.

Me: Parker, guess what?!?

Parker (warily): What?

Me: You get to make dinner tonight!

Parker: I don’t know how to make dinner.

Me: That’s the best part! I’m going to TEACH you! And you get to make whatever you want.

Parker: Chicken broccoli casserole

Me: I figured you’d say that.

At 5pm Monday night, I dragged Parker away from his Youtube videos of other people playing video games, and Parker helped me make his favorite dinner. He preheated the oven, cooked the broccoli in the microwave, dumped the cream of chicken soup into the bowl, added the other sauce ingredients and stirred to his heart’s desire. He refused to touch the half-cooked chicken, and I don’t blame him. At the end he carefully placed the cheese (I couldn’t find shredded in the fridge, only sliced)

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crumbled up the bread for the very large bread crumbs, and added chunks of butter. There was a bit of a scuffle over whether or not he was allowed to eat one of the butter chunks.

He opened the oven and I placed the casserole in to bake. He set the timer.

The best part was the look on his face when everyone ate the dinner he made and gave him all sorts of praise.

Tonight Zoe is helping me make her favorite dinner- Swedish meatballs. These kids are definitely predictable. Hopefully next week I can talk them into something different, or I’m gonna get sick of these two meals pretty quick.

I’m making a conscious effort to change the way I think regarding chores. I’m trying to retrain my brain to see giving my children responsibilities as a benefit to them, as opposed to laziness on my part for pawning off something that’s supposed to be “my job.”

I’m starting to believe “my job” is not to do things for my children, but to teach them to do for themselves. I take for granted my ability to do chores. I don’t like them, but I certainly can do them. I wouldn’t say I’m GREAT at them, but I’m capable.

I want my kids to have confidence in their abilities; And that extends to their ability to clean up after themselves, to feed themselves, to wash their own clothes.

Will I create a chore chart? Probably not. I’m not that organized. Once was enough.

But I will give them expectations to live up to, and I will stop feeling guilty when I ask them to help. I will keep reminding myself that I am giving them a healthy dose of vitamin C.

C for chores, that is.

Cleanliness is not next to godliness.  It isn’t even in the same neighborhood.  No one has ever gotten a religious experience out of removing burned-on cheese from the grill of the toaster oven.”
―     Erma Bombeck

 

 

 

Children of The Corn (Maze)

Children-Corn_l “He wants you too, Malachi!”

No, not THAT children of the corn. (To this day probably the scariest movie I ever saw as a kid.)

THIS children of the corn:

image(Almost as scary)

Friday night I took Zoe, Parker and Zoe’s friend Ashlyn to one of our local farms. They were having a charity night for a young girl who goes to my mom’s school who is battling cancer. This particular farm has a pumpkin patch and a corn maze, along with a general store filled with yummy treats- fresh honey, amazing sweet corn puffs, gourmet cheeses, soup mixes and local jams.

We actually have several farms in our area. Some have gotten into the wedding business, some have elaborate pumpkin patches with story time, petting zoos, special play areas. This farm has Bob’s corn maze, and it’s fantastic.

imageLooking like a lamb being led to slaughter

When my mom asked us to go to the corn maze, I had envisioned walking a path through a few rows of corn, easy peasy. 15, 20 minutes tops. Ha!

We went into the general store to purchase our tickets. Of course my mother knew every person in there. My friend Tabitha was working the register, since the people who own the farm are her in-laws. Tabitha suggested taking a picture of the maze in case we had a difficult time finding our way out. I scoffed a bit at her suggestion, but took the picture anyway.

image That doesn’t look so complicated, does it?

Zoe insisted we NOT look at the picture, as that was “cheating.” We headed into the maze at about 630. The man standing at the entrance said that if we made it to the halfway point (the grey square in the upper left corner) and we didn’t think we could finish before it got dark, we could walk around the outside of the maze.

Once again, I scoffed.

imageWalking towards the maze (Notice Zoe’s mouth-open)

He told us to be careful of the stalks, as they are very sharp, and you can cut your hand on the corn leaves. I had no idea this was a dangerous mission. He also mentioned that the first half of the maze was significantly less challenging than the second half.

Parker stood at the entrance, impatient to start.

imageLet’s

imageGo!

I soon realized that my cute strappy sandals were completely inappropriate for navigating a muddy path. (We had a huge thunder and lightning storm the night before.)

It required a lot of checking my balance, which was tweaking my already tweaked lower back. Parker kept trying to run ahead, but I insisted he stay within sight. After a few minutes of weaving through the path, we came upon a group of kids, ranging in age from 7-12. As usual, my mother knew them. They had no adult with them and said they had lost the rest of their group. They told us they had been trying to find their way back to the beginning for over a half hour, and asked if they could stay with us.

The older one, also named Katie, was clearly the boss of the group. (I think there must be something to that name.) She was trying to tell us where to go, but Parker, the Napoleonic personality that he is, was having none of it. He marched himself to the front of the pack, no hesitation.

Zoe and Ashlyn stayed with the herd, they didn’t try to race ahead.  Zoe was by far the loudest talker in our group. Everything she said was at full voice. When she wasn’t giving orders, she was chatting.

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She said, “I keep getting bugs in my mouth!”

I responded, “Perhaps if you kept it closed, that wouldn’t happen.

image Always talking (See? Mouth open)

Parker tried to talk everyone into going down one path, but he was outvoted. Following a standoff, he relented and came with us. After finding several dead ends, we ended back where he had wanted us to go.

I said, “Parker, you may have been right.”

Parker responded, “I may be right, you may be crazy!”

I’ve been listening to the Billy Joel station on Pandora, can you tell?

We turned and turned and then came to another crossroads. Parker insisted on going one way, while the group wanted to go another. I followed Parker to make sure I didn’t lose him.

He found a way out!

He’d found the entrance.

Somehow we had made our way back to the beginning. I called to the group to let the kids we had acquired in the maze know that we had found the start. They gratefully made their way and reunited with their families.

So. There we were, back at the beginning.

My father, the engineer, said, “From now on, we only turn right.”

Sounded like as good a plan as any.

As the sun began to set, my mother started getting concerned.

“Do you think they’ll send someone after us if we don’t make it out?”

“I think he said if we start yelling someone will come in to find us.”

And then… after 90 minutes of wandering…

Parker- “I found it! I found it!”

There it was. The halfway point.

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It was glorious. Benches, fire pit, a port-a-potty.

Like Nirvana.

Of course, by now it was 730, the sun was rapidly going down, and we had yet to eat dinner. My father suggested we call it a night and come back to do the second half another night, this time with flashlights.

As we made our way out into the open field, we saw a spectacular sight.

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There are a lot of metaphors and life lessons that you can learn from going through a corn maze.

When you’re inside the maze, you have no perspective. When you look at the maze from above, it becomes so much more clear.

When you refuse to look at the map or listen to the guidance you’ve been given, it can make your journey that much more difficult. You’ll probably get where you are going eventually, but you’re gonna run into a lot of dead ends and a lot of frustration.

Sometimes you have to go back to the beginning. Sometimes you have to start over and do it the right way, when you’ve been doing it the wrong way.

You learn a lot about people’s personalities in a corn maze. Who is a born leader? Who has no clue what they are doing, but is loud and bossy anyway? Who gets flustered when lost, and who stays calm? Who can take directions, and who insists their way is always right?

You can race to your destination, but if you don’t know how to get there, you’ll find yourself going in circles.

Slow, steady and methodical really IS the best way to go.

Possibly, allowing your 7 year old to lead the way isn’t the best strategy.

Going through the maze is always better when it’s with someone you love, trust, laugh with, and generally enjoy their company.

Some say it isn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey. And that’s true. But what’s the point of the journey if the destination isn’t spectacular?

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We walked around the outside of the corn  maze, along the pumpkin patch. It’s only the beginning of September, but the pumpkins are huge and ripe.

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Farmer Bob says the pumpkins got ripe way too early because of our amazing summer weather we’ve enjoyed. They’re planning a “pumpkin hurl” because they probably won’t make it until Halloween without rotting first.

snohomish-pumpkin-hurl-2012

http://www.festivalofpumpkins.org/the-pumpkin-hurl.asp

If you’re in the Seattle area, starting at the end of September, you too can experience Bob’s corn maze. I’m totally going back to finish the damn thing. This time, though, I’m bringing a flashlight and a backpack filled with food and water in case we get lost again.

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Am I A Good Mom? An Honest Answer To A Scary Question

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Yesterday afternoon I came home from the grocery store and picking Zoe and Parker up from school to find Sydney watching an episode of “Trading Spouses.” “Trading Spouses” is the knock-off version of “Wife Swap.” I’m pretty sure this episode was from several years ago, as I think the show got cancelled and is now only in reruns.

I was supposed to be getting dinner going in the crock pot, but I got drawn in to the story. I missed most of the episode, but what struck me straight through the gut was the reaction of one of the families as they prepared to say goodbye to the “mom” who had swapped with their real mom. The husband kept repeating how nice she was and what a good woman she was. The kids looked on the verge of tears. The little boy said, “I don’t want you to leave.” The teenage daughter said that she wished this woman was her mother, and that she hoped her real mom had changed while she was gone- but she was doubtful.

By this point in the show, I was starting to tear up. I was feeling overwhelmed with grief that this family had a taste of a mom who was kind, and loving and were dreading the return of their own. I hadn’t watched the show until the end, so I hadn’t seen what kind of woman she was.

As she rolled her suitcase up to her own house, they showed a flashback clip of her prior to leaving in which she said, “I can’t wait to go. I won’t miss my family AT ALL.”

Maybe she said that because she was feeling unappreciated. Maybe she said that because her family treated her poorly. I didn’t know. But it broke my heart.

When she walked into the house, there was no joyful welcome as at the other house. It was quiet, hesitant. The children gave her flowers but they looked like they were being forced to do so against their will. She asked, “Did you miss me?” The response was a moment of silence. Her husband jumped in with “Of course we did!” and patted their son on the arm, as if prompting him to concur.

The boy said, “Yes, we missed you.” But he sounded sad, and it didn’t ring true.

She looked at him and said, “You don’t sound like you did. I missed you.” But her words didn’t sound any more believable.

I watched the kids on the screen and thought about my own kids. I wondered if I swapped with another mom, would my kids be sad that I was coming home or be happy? Am I a good mom?

I thought about a conversation I had with my husband the night before.

We were watching the new season of “The Ultimate Fighter” and they were interviewing a young Brazilian man who was talking about how his mother had raised him on her own. He said that she struggled, she worked two jobs, and now it was his turn to take care of her. She was his primary motivation for winning the fight.

I turned to Jeff and said, “I don’t think our kids would ever talk about me like that.”

He said, “Of course not. You don’t work two jobs as a single mom. You don’t have to struggle.”

I know he didn’t mean to hurt my feelings, but he did.

What it sounded like he was saying to me was that I hadn’t earned the right to have my kid speak adoringly of me because I’m a married middle class housewife, not a struggling single mom.

I know that in a lot of ways, I have it easier than a lot of other moms. I have a husband, one who provides for me and our children, and has afforded me the option to stay home with our kids for the past 19 years. My kids are healthy. I don’t have the additional challenges of a child with special needs, or one with a severe illness such as leukemia.

What that means is, I don’t have any excuses for not being an amazing mom. And truthfully, I know I’m missing the mark.

So yesterday, with all of these thoughts swirling in my head, I got brave. I asked a question to which  I wasn’t sure I wanted to know the answer.

I asked Sydney, “As a parent, when you have kids of your own, what would you say is one major thing you would do differently than I have done?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well like, when you’re a mom. If you said, ‘I’ll never do _____like my mom did.’ or ‘My mom never did ____ but I will with my kids.’ What would that be?”

She sat for a minute and said, “I think I will use more discipline. I’d be more consistent. You ask us to do stuff, but there are never any consequences if we don’t. I think that’s one of the reasons getting a job was intimidating to me, because you never gave me responsibilities.”

Is anyone else completely astounded by this answer in the way that I was? First, that instead of her saying I was too hard on her (which is one of my fears) she said I wasn’t strict enough. As a nearly 19 year old, she’s seeing that the MORE structure and discipline a child has, the more confidence they have going out into the world. I’m just starting to grasp this concept. I tried to make life easier for my kids, but that seems to actually make it more difficult for them.

In my own analysis of my parenting of Sydney, I would say that I was too critical of her. I was a control freak who never let her go outside and get dirty. I didn’t give her effusive praise because I KNEW she was beautiful, smart and talented, and I wanted to make sure she was humble and kind as well. When she would talk about a conflict with one of her friends, I played Devil’s advocate because I wanted her to be empathetic to others, to see things from their perspective. What she needed was an ally, an advocate. She needed to know I was in her corner. I grieve every missed opportunity to tell her she is beautiful, and that I’m on her side. I’m her biggest fan.

image Oh, if only I could go back and be the cheerleader you needed me to be.

My next question was, “What have I done as a mom that you want to replicate with your kids?”

She said, “I like that you make quality time. I like that you have made our house feel like a home, all my friends say that. I like that they feel welcome here, and like to be here.”

I liked that answer.

I told her about my conversation the night before with her dad, and she gave a very careful, crafted answer.

She said that sometimes the things that I say, the things I write on Facebook or in my blog, indicate that I don’t take parenting very seriously. That I’m sarcastic, and Jeff is sarcastic, and we parent sarcastically. She said that we haven’t cultivated an environment in our home where I am revered and respected. No one around here is attempting to nominate me for sainthood, and I certainly don’t deserve it.  Jeff doesn’t walk around extolling me to our children, he slaps me on the ass and makes me the butt of his very clever jokes. The sarcasm in our home is never intended to be hurtful, but she’s right- No one is putting me on a pedestal around here because that’s just not how we operate.

One reason is that I am just not a very touchy-feely person. I’m not comfortable with a lot of physical affection, and I like my personal space. Sometimes, as I have kids hanging all over me like a jungle gym, I think God must have a big sense of humor to give 4 kids to a woman with personal space issues.

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Another reason is that I have a discomfort with emotional intimacy, but am incapable of faking emotion for another person’s benefit. The good news is you always know where you stand with me. The bad news is even when I wish I could plaster a smile on my face and flatter the hell out of someone, I can’t. I can’t do it. And even on the few occasions I have tried, my kids have seen right through it. (“When you say, oooooohhhh, I know you’re just saying that.” ) I have zero poker face. Zero. Combine a discomfort with intimacy and zero poker face and you get a mom who uses sarcasm to show affection. It’s not something I’m proud of.

I decided to poll the other kids to see what they would answer to those same questions. I tried to pose it , as I did with Sydney, as less of a “What am I doing wrong” sort of question, more of a “How do you plan to parent your own kids based on what you’ve observed here” sort of thing.

Driving Parker home from soccer practice, I asked him.

Parker’s answer was in direct conflict with Sydney’s answer. Parker said, “I would let my kids do more of the stuff they want to do, like play dates. And I would take them on vacation.”

“What do you like that I do?”

“Sometimes you make my favorite dinner, but not all the time. And sometimes you get me stuff I want.”

Of course.

It was funny, though, because he then started ruminating on his future.

“Who do you think I will marry?”

“I don’t know. That will be up to you.”

“Where do you think I will live?”

“Anywhere you want to. You can live close by, or far away.”

“Are there houses in snowy towns by the Himalayas?”

“Yes, there are houses in the villages there. I’m not sure you’d want to live there, though. I don’t think there are neighborhoods like we live in.”

“Can I take some of the stuff at our house to my new house for my children?”

“Sure. ”

This evolved into a conversation of gender roles.

“Moms take care of the children more than dads because they go to work.”

“Some moms go to work.”

“”Yeah, but they work in their house!”

“Actually some moms go to work at offices and other places outside the house.”

“Then who takes care of the children?!?”

“Well, they usually go to day care.”

“What’s day care?”

“A place where people take care of kids while their parents are at work.”

He processed that thought for the rest of the drive home. He has no clue what it’s like to have a working mom. I think I actually blew his mind.

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As we were dishing up dinner (Not Parker’s favorite- again!) I asked Nathan the same question. He responded, “I’m not answering any questions you might not like the answer to.”

He’s going to make a very good husband some day.

Zoe overheard and yelled out, “Nothing! There’s NOTHING you could do better! You’re the best mom ever!”

Zoe’s my number one fan in the house.

“I’m sure there’s something I could do better. Everyone can do their job better. If you don’t tell me, I can’t get better.”

I gave Jeff a warning look as he began to open his mouth to say something snarky.

“Well, I’d like to spend more time with you.” She spends more time with me than any of the kids.

“Oh, and I wish you weren’t on your phone so much.”

“Ok, So what will you do with your kids that I do?”

“Snuggle time. I will definitely have snuggle time with my kids.”

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In all honesty, I think my kids were easier on me than I deserve. I’ve struggled over the years with losing my temper and yelling. I spend too much time on Facebook. I don’t keep an immaculate house and I’m always behind on laundry. I could be better at giving compliments and praise. I should be reading to them at bedtime instead of watching TV with them. I should be feeding them organic. I should never allow them to feel like a burden to me instead of a blessing. I should be fully invested in my time with them, not distracted, not half-assing it. These are moments I will never get back.

My saving grace in all of this is knowing that being aware of my faults as a mom is half the battle; That every day I can improve, and yesterday’s failures can be today’s triumphs.  I am grateful that in spite of my short-comings, my kids still love me.

It’s scary to ask tough questions, especially when you know the answers won’t necessarily be pretty. But I believe we have to recognize our weaknesses to strengthen them.

Am I a good mom? Not always.  Some days I’m a better mom than other days. Some days I screw up. I do love my kids, though, fiercely. And that’s motivation enough to do better every day.

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It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

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Back in 1996 when this commercial was first released, my oldest kid was 2 and I thought it was humorous- in an abstract sort of way. Now I get it. I really get it.Back_to_School_Funny_Staples_Commercial

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DComGO8JYo

This morning I sent 3 kids off to their first day of the new school year. Sydney is still asleep, as her classes don’t start until the 17th. I’m sitting here in the blissful quiet drinking coffee.

Nathan decided that, rather than catching the 645AM bus, he will ride his bike to school every day. This should prove interesting considering his antipathy towards the use of a locker. Last year I nearly threw out my back trying to move his backpack 5 ft. (Speaking of, my lower back went out yesterday, so this entire blog is being written under the influence of muscle relaxers. Please keep that in mind) Nathan is also playing tennis again this year, so in addition to the backpack filled with 100lbs of books, he will also have his tennis bag strapped to his back. We shall see how this little experiment plays out. Oh, and did I mention it was raining this morning?

I didn’t get a back-to-school picture of Nathan again this year. I must admit, it’s been a while. I think the last one was his second day of 8th grade. I didn’t wake up on time on his first day of 8th grade, so I made him stand and pretend it was his first day. I set my alarm for 7 to make sure he was up, but that was the extent of what I was capable this morning. Maybe I’ll get a “2nd day of Sophomore year” pic tomorrow. Probably not.

I did, after coercion and threats, get Zoe and Parker to stand for their first day of school picture this morning. Zoe acted like she had no idea where to stand, even though this is her fifth year standing in the same spot on the porch for the traditional first day picture. Parker refused to look directly at me, and made a grimacing face in every shot. I finally got this picture before declaring “Never mind!”

imageNotice Parker’s shirt is about a foot too long.

I tried to talk Parker into tucking in his shirt, but he told me it would look lame. Zoe’s shoes are too big, but she insisted on wearing them anyways. I honestly didn’t care. I have searing pain in my lower back every time I move up or down, so frankly, they could have gone to school in burlap sacks as far as I’m concerned.

I used to try a little harder. Look at this picture of Sydney from the second grade:

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Her outfit is coordinated, she has a matching bow in her hair… if you look closely you’ll see that I even tied a ribbon around her skirt that matches her hair bow. That was about 12 years ago. 12 first days of school ago.

My first day of school was in 1977. Somehow I still remember it. We lived in Huntington Beach and I had a brand new denim dress with spaghetti straps and a yellow shirt. I loved my outfit. Most of all, I loved my saddle shoes.

image you can’t see the saddle shoes in this pic, but trust me- I was wearing them.

I loved those saddle shoes so much, that I insisted that both of my girls wear saddle shoes for their first days of school.

imageSydney, first day of preschool.

image Zoe, first day of pre-K.

My boys, well, I have to admit I haven’t tried quite as hard with them.

image Nathan, first day of preschool

image Parker, first day of kindergarten

(Also, Zoe first day of 2nd grade. She picked this outfit, and I always felt it had a certain “After school I’m heading to the club” vibe.)

image No idea what he wore that year, thanks to a complete lack of cooperation.

My mother has all my old first day of school pictures somewhere. Some are probably fine. Most are probably horribly embarrassing.

I do know there’s no first day of school picture from my 2nd grade year. That’s because I missed the first day of 2nd grade. I believe I had the stomach flu. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to show up to a brand new school on the SECOND day of school? It threw my whole year off. I never quite recovered.

Other than that year, I always loved the first day of school. I’d sharpen my pencils, put paper in my Trapper Keeper (Lisa Frank, of course)

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And my outliner pens-

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I’d lay my first day of school outfit on the end of my bed. Maybe it was my Gloria Vanderbilt jeans…

fa1393 Mine had blue sparkles and a swan on the pocket

or Jordache…

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Or maybe my lavender A. Smile Gelato overalls.

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The coolest clothes couldn’t help me on the first day of 8th grade, however. A week before starting 8th grade, I got braces. The day before the first day of 8th grade, I went in to my local salon with a photo of a hairstyle that I wanted.

It was probably something like this:

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What I got was more like this:

2473010826_bf9145a132 Disclaimer- NOT ME. However, similar look.

I went for a sophisticated loose curl bob. I ended up looking like a poodle.

I ran home from the salon crying and immediately washed my hair. For anyone who has ever gotten a perm, you know that this does NOT help a bad perm. It makes it worse. Junior High is hard enough without adding braces and a permed mullet.

I learned that year never to make a change the day before school starts.

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Last night I was in Parker’s room putting away his clothes when Zoe came in, in full-blown hysteria.

“Mommy?”

“What?”

“Can you homeschool me? You’re smart enough.”

I stared at her for a minute and said, “No. What’s the issue, Zoe?”

She was sniffling and whimpering and said, “I have THREE things to do, and I’m never gonna get them done before school.”

I asked her what she had to do. She said, “Well you said I have to put my clothes away. And it’s gonna take forever.”

“Yes. I asked you three times yesterday and twice today.”

“And I still have to finish decorating my binder.”

“OK.”

“And I’m supposed to put 3 things in a bag that represent me, and I don’t even know myself.”

I guess that could be a problem.

I went back in my room and Jeff asked what all the drama was about. I responded, “You don’t want to know. Ignorance is bliss.”

He asked me if I had made their lunches. I said, “Why would I do that? Parker has two brand new lunch boxes, but I will bet you money he chooses to get hot lunch. It’s chicken nuggets.”

Who knows their kid? This lady.

After I got the kids to bed, I pulled out the paperwork that was sitting on Parker’s desk at the teacher meet and greet.

( Side story-when we went to the teacher meet and greet yesterday, in Parker’s classroom a boy was standing with his mother, brother and older sister. The boy says, “Look mom! Parker’s in my class!” I said, “Parker, do you know (quick glance at the name tag on his desk) Mark here?” Parker stared and said, “I don’t know him .” I said, “Sure you do! Mark. He knows you’re Parker. You must know him.” Parker- “I’ve never seen him before in my life.” I mumbled something like, “He has a bad memory.” Man, did it get hot in that room.)

First in the packet I brought home was a “getting to know your child” form.

Every year I despise filling out this form.

1.”Please tell me what you think your child needs to work on this year.”

The conundrum: do I lay it all out at the beginning, or let her figure it out for herself? She says she wants to know, but maybe it will bias her against him.

I decide to go with vague euphemisms:

“Parker could work on respecting others’ personal space.”

“Parker may need help staying on task.”

“Parker benefits from structure with positive encouragement.”

2. “What are your child’s talents?”

Um. Well, does memorizing entire episodes of his favorite cartoons count? How about endless amounts of tracing, coloring and cutting out Scooby Doo villains?

3. “Anything else I need to know about your child?”

Good luck, lady. Hope you have a sense of humor and a lot of patience.

I didn’t write that. I think I left it blank. She’ll find out soon enough.

Grandma Toni showed up this morning to walk the kids to school. As I tried to wrangle them into position for their picture, Parker said to me, “Why are you coming? We don’t need you to walk us. We have Grandma.”

Zoe said, “Yeah. You have a sore back. You should stay here.”

I ignored them.

When we got to the school, crowded with parents taking pictures, kids in new outfits and teachers who seemed well-rested and enthusiastic, my kids immediately ditched me.

I suppose I should be grateful that I have raised children who are independent. Ones who don’t cry and cling as I try to walk away. They could at least PRETEND they are a little melancholy about leaving me. I pretend I’m sad they’re going.

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Oh, and good news- hottie dad’s son is in Zoe’s class. For those who don’t know, hottie dad is a cute young dad whose daughter Parker bit when they were in the same kindergarten class. Twice. He likes to volunteer a lot out of guilt (recent ugly divorce). It’s always nice to have eye candy on field trips.

Don’t confuse hottie dad with hottie RUNNING dad. Hottie running dad is the size of Sydney, but a friend thinks he’s cute, so we had to differentiate. He is always running, so thus the title. Hottie running dad spends a suspicious amount of time talking to “buns of steel” mom, but I don’t want to start any gossip, so I’ll leave it at that.

I think it’s going to be a good year. It was a chaotic, NOT restful summer, so this back-to-school things feels like the onset of a vacation to me. Cheers to all you moms out there celebrating the silence just like me today. You’ve earned it.

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