Wednesday, August 18, 2010

We Were Only Freshman

In about twelve hours, one of my college roommates will be here. The last time we were together, ten years ago, she got married. I don’t think that’ll happen again this weekend, but I do expect us to pick back up where we left off. I, for one, still have some complaints regarding open dorm rules, the poor breakfast options in the cafeteria on the weekends, and the way Dr. Batts kept his classroom at 55 degrees. He said it was to keep us awake, but it always had the opposite effect on me, often putting me into a hypothermia induced coma.

And now that we each have three kids six and under, we can laugh at our collegiate selves and how we thought we were so busy back then. I’m sure we’ll have a lot of what-were-we-thinking conversations. Like how did we convince ourselves we were eating a balanced diet just because we got lettuce on our tacos at Taco Bell. Or why didn't we consider future hearing impairments when we were playing the music in our hoopties so loud the seats vibrated. (If you don’t know what a hoopty is, will enlighten you.) And, of course, what we were thinking with some of our crushes? Did I really like him so much that I hung out in the library? Or, is it possible you actually cried when Mr. So and So dedicated a song to you on the radio? Surely we were not that lame. . . .Oh, yeah we were. And, there are a few pictures, sealed by the courts, to prove it.

Remembering college days is always so bittersweet for me, because I feel like I didn’t appreciate the fabulousness of that life enough while I was leading it. Sure I was having a good time, but I didn’t pause to consider how unique that period of my life would be. It was a short and stained-glass window of time of being an adult without all of the cumbersome adult responsibilities. Turns out, when you’re a real grown-up, you never find yourself in impromptu pajama parties with seven of your closest girlfriends. You don’t go to IHOP at midnight anymore, even when you really, really want to. There’s no more showing up late to something just because it was Happy Hour at Sonic.

That temptress Sallie Mae isn’t bankrolling any more experiments for me. And the phrase road trip isn’t quite so enticing when you have to pack for a family of five heading for the apocalypse. And how is it that my friends and I could do a five hour trip without a restroom stop and sometimes my kids can’t even make it out of town before nature calls? Remember when sleeping in meant “I’ll see you after lunch.”? And now it’s “Don’t call before 7:30.”

If I could go back, I’d appreciate how easy it was to clean one half of a dorm room. I’d spend even more nights talking and laughing with my girl friends until the sun started to rise. And I’d rollerblade everywhere, because you just can’t do that when you’re a thirty-three-year-old stay at home mom without raising some eyebrows.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

So Fresh and So Clean

It’s supposed to be 102 degrees in Raleigh today, summer’s way of beginning one last forward assault before he retreats in the face of fall. It’s easy to get disheartened in the dogs days of summer, grieving for lawns that died from heat exhaustion, mourning for swimming pools that have now become tepid, and pondering if it’s even worth it to keep fighting the ants, or if perhaps we should just work out some kind of time-share with them for the house. But, I know if we can just hang on, help is on the way.

It’s like I can see fall on the horizon, and he’s as beautiful as ever. It’s a rumbling in the distance. I hear it in pre-season football, back-to-school sales, and previews of fall shows. And I know he’ll rescue me from this sticky summer situation I’ve gotten myself into. Fall will swoop in and rid the air of moisture, the trees of leaves, and my house of children (three mornings a week, at least). And, one of my favorite things about fall is that he never shows up without zippered hoodies.

I think it was last weekend’s back to school shopping that infected me with this uncharacteristic optimism. Because even though I haven’t been “back to school” in about a dozen years, I still engage in the shopping ritual. It’s kind of like being an alumni and still going to all the football games. I mean, just because I no longer take mid-terms doesn’t mean I don’t need Levi’s and new Converse sneakers.

But, it’s not just the fall clothes, which I won’t even get to wear for months; I also still relish those school supply aisles that are overflowing with things like fresh notebooks, the ones where the paper is so new you can smell the tree it was yesterday, and rows of backpacks to suit any disposition, from the cheery and hopeful daisy printed ones in eye-popping colors, to the black and pre-torn varieties from the Outcast&Troubled line. And, for some reason, I’m always tempted to get a new lunchbox for myself, even though I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for six years now and really have no need to pack my lunch, just so that I can carry it from the kitchen to the dining room table.

I have really fond memories of how this time of year felt to me when I was younger. Mostly, it felt like possibilities. There was the possibility that I’d get to sit in the back of the class because my reputation as a talker hadn’t preceded me. There was the possibility that I could keep my new shoes clean. There was the possibility I would love all of my teachers and some of my classes. (Math always prohibited me from even considering the possibility of loving all of my classes.) There was the possibility that our football team would go undefeated and make state play-offs or that all of the cute boys in school would fall madly in love with me, and, I suppose, there was a possibility that pigs would finally get around to flying, but let’s just say that some dreams died early in the school year and leave it at that.

I’m looking forward to all of the years lying ahead for my three kids where this time of year will mean they still have a full box of crayons, are in good standing with their teachers, and have no overdue homework assignments. It will be fun as they get older to see them break out the corduroy pants and sweaters on the first morning that the temperature dips below 80, just because they’ve been waiting to wear their new threads. And, I predict their mother will be doing the same thing. Their grandmother, too, because Nana still does her fair share of back-to-school shopping.

So, you know what? Bring it on, Summer! You can’t beat me. Fall’s coming and he’s bringing fresh starts and clean slates and football. I hear a pep rally in the distance, and any day now House will be back on and I’ll feel whole again.

(As I reviewed this blog, I noticed that Microsoft Word underlined hoodies, like it just did again, and I thought I’d right click and see what the spelling suggestions were. The list of choices was foodies, goodies, hoodless, holies and hoodoos. I get that hoodies are a somewhat recent fashion trend, but hoodoos? What the heck is a hoodoo and why is that acceptable in a world where hoodies isn’t? Just goes to show that computers don’t know everything and there’s something to be said for human intelligence!)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Silly Trendz

I’m at the pool, giving the three inmates their guaranteed outdoor recreation time, per state penitentiary laws, and I decided that since the sun is M.I.A. and I can’t work on my fledgling tan, I should at least work on my blog.

I actually thought we weren’t even going to make it to the pool today because my daughter, right before our departure, issued a four-alarm scream from upstairs. I ran up there, ready to pack her severed legs in ice and rush her to the emergency room, or maybe even use my newly acquired and untested kickboxing skills on the team of assassins that broke in through the attic. In the midst of the chaos, there was no time to consider why any assassin would value my family as targets. Perhaps, there is a covert operation underway to rid the world of its pickiest eaters.

But, alas, it was no such emergency. I encountered the offspring in question in her bedroom, red in the face, sweat on her brow, tears pummeling her cheeks, and she said, “MOM! I CAN’T FIND MY SILLY BANDZ ANYWHERE!” Are. You. Kidding. Me?!!!? I’ll come back to the patient and mature way I handled this, later.

First, I want to know how an entire nation (and oh how I wish I was only talking about kids) got brainwashed into thinking it’s cool to accessorize with colored rubber bands. Personally, I didn’t even think it was cool when kids were sporting them on their braces. Is this what they call mass hysteria? Is this the kind of brainwashing that brought Hitler to power in Germany? And if there is anyone reading this blog that has not heard of Silly Bandz and has no idea what I’m talking about, then please tell me where you live, because I’d like to move there.

Let me also clarify that the unfolding catastrophe in my daughter’s bedroom was over the loss of one band and it wasn’t even hers, it was just an article of litter she picked up at the park that happened to be part of a global fad. Because, in accordance with my vow to never get sucked into another ridiculous trend after the tight-rolled jeans fiasco of 1989, I haven’t even considered purchasing them for my kids. I’ve approached this as a good opportunity to teach my children the value of individuality and self-responsibility, and how to avoid the dangerous kind of “group-think” that led to leg-warmers, Hammer pants, and acid-washed denim. (And, by the way, I’m awarding 10,000 meaningless points to anyone that can email me a photo of them wearing Hammer pants.)

What I want my kids to know is that just because the boy down the street is wearing a whole sleeve of bandz, it doesn’t mean it’s cool or even makes sense. And so what if the girl at the park was wearing so much rubber she’d be safe in a lightning storm? We could just go inside for safety, you know. And, no, it’s not a dolphin; it’s a blue rubber band! Dolphins are still, and will probably always be, in the ocean.

And I’m no environmentalist, or an expert of any kind on anything, but I’m pretty sure that this Silly Bandz phenomenon is not in line with America’s efforts to “go green”. I don’t know if they’re made from rubber, plastic, or some other non-biodegradable material, but I know that I’ve already seen enough of them discarded, lost or abandoned to max out an entire landfill. And, I think we were better off as a nation when kids were just trading things from their lunch boxes instead of trying to create so many jobs in the rubber industry.

So, when I found out it was one of these over-hyped ponytail holders that was the source of my daughter’s meltdown, I showed no sympathy. I’m pretty sure I showed the opposite of sympathy, which is, of course, sarcasm. I made sure that she understood that we don’t succumb to suicidal thoughts over the disappearance of a rubber band. Even if it glowed in the dark.

Once we were downstairs, I retrieved the old-school rubber band that was delivered to our house around the Sunday paper, and said, “Here. Stop crying.” She looked at it and said, “But, it’s not a shape!” Um, “Yeah, it is. It’s an oval. See.” She got really excited and was like, “Oh, wow!” And then went to show it off to her brother and sister and I was like, man, what a sucker! Which is exactly what that thirteen-year-old girl who invented Silly Bandz is thinking right now as she lounges on her yacht drinking chocolate milk out of Waterford crystal while enjoying her private Jonas Brothers concert. (Speaking of things that make no sense to me.)