Musing

Blood and Bad Behavior

blood-732297__340Last Wednesday (9/11), my small town, located in the shadow of a major city, sponsored a blood drive in remembrance of all the first responders who gave their lives during the 9/11 attacks 18 years ago.  It was a great event.  Or, at least it was until a jackass ruined it for me.

While on the cot giving my donation, I overheard part of a conversation that really burned me up.  I heard the man in the cot behind me put on a falsetto voice.  In fact, that was what got my attention. He said, “So she says, I have fibromyalgia. And I said oh no the scourge of the middle class white woman.”  The man followed up with something to the effect of “it wasn’t my finest hour and I probably shouldn’t have said that to the lady” and a few more half ass apologetic remarks. I tried to turn around on my cot to see the speaker’s face and to give him a piece of my mind but couldn’t because of the needle and bag setup.  Then everything got dicey.  My little trying to turn around stunt nearly pulled the needle out of my arm so here comes an attendant to make sure I’m still set up.  Additionally, other Red Cross folks are making a commotion behind me.  Apparently, the loud mouthed guy was finished and they were detaching his bag.  In a matter of seconds, a middle aged, white man with a fresh bandage came from that direction. In a voice that sounded vaguely familiar, he thanked me for coming out to give blood. I should have point blank asked him if he was the loud mouthed speaker but I was seething mad and the Red Cross folks were asking me questions. I would find out later that day the man who thanked me was one of the organizers and a former city council member for our town.

It’s funny, I’m not sure what pissed me off the most – the dig on middle class white women or the fact that he was making light of an unseen medical condition. Being a middle class white male himself, why in the world would he dig on his female counterpart?  Is he a charter member of the He-man woman haters club?  Furthermore, why would anyone, regardless of socioeconomic status or gender, make fun of someone’s unseen medical condition. Just because the condition is unseen doesn’t mean it’s not serious or real.  A lot of the time it seems if it’s not something life threatening like diabetes or heart disease it’s not valid to some people. I just don’t understand this logic.  This type of self righteous, know it all, behavior are just some of the traits that have formed the stereotype of the entitled male.

I’ve thought about sending this clown a Facebook message and flat out calling him out on his behavior but to what end? He might apologize for it. That’s what most people do nowadays when they have been called out for bad behavior.  But, who cares right?  After all, what is an apology without regret, remorse or change?  It’s just empty words.

Now dear reader, I’d love to know how you would handle this situation.  It’s a week since I started writing this post and while I’m still ticked about the whole thing I’m pretty much over it. But, the whole situation has me thinking about stereotypes. I’m sure that will evolve into a post very soon.  Ironically, I had another encounter with a douchey middle aged, white man at Kroger yesterday. I’m starting to think I have a sign on my back that says please be an asshat to me.  Or, maybe, my town is just full of asshats.

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Rants

Words on the Nerves

black and white picture of a crying child

PROLOGUE: I’ve had this blog written for about a week. As of this morning, I decided to put it off and write something about 9/11. But, then I read something this – Terrorists hate it when you’re happy.  As does Satan and any other bad person. So to that end, I scrapped my sad, emotional remembrance of 9/11 and give you my silly, crazy, off the wall take on something mundane.  I hope it brings a smile to your face. Don’t let the bastards get you down.

Do you have a pet peeve word or phrase?  I would be willing to bet my last dollar most of you do.  A lot of people I know hate the word ‘moist’. Supposably for supposedly has irked me for years.  I could care less makes me care a lot.  Lately, my end all be all, tap dance on my very last nerve word is ‘crafted’. Let me use it in a couple of sentences for you.  She crafted her response. Lexus crafts its vehicles with care.  Let’s just get one thing straight about the word crafted. The only time anything is crafted is when glue, glitter, scissors, and crayons are involved and maybe some yarn.  Or, if you make something like soap or jewelry then you can say your product is truly handcrafted. But, just crafted as a stand alone, no way.  No one has ever crafted a response. One writes a response; one does not craft a response.  Again, there was no glue stick involved.  No one is crafting a car. Engineers, designers, welders, mechanics, assembly line workers all work together to make a car.  The designers design. The welders weld.  The assembly line workers assemble but no crafting was involved.  ‘Craft’ is a bullshit bingo word some marketing guru came up with much like the word ‘synergy’.  It sounds good and gives us all warm fuzzies but it means nothing.

The next word in line for the tap dance on my nerves award is ‘self-care’. Hand to heaven it sounds like a nicey-nice, in polite company way of saying masturbation. Let’s use ‘self-care’ in a sentence.  After a particularly stressful day, I went home and practiced some self-care.  Honestly, what does that even mean?!  Does it not sound like you had some special alone time or maybe you just went home, took your bra off and drank a bottle of wine while watching Netflix.  Or, it could mean you took a bubble bath for so long you’re still pruney three days later.  I mean so much can be construed from that tiny phrase.  It’s truly perplexing. And, riddle me this, when did we need a self-care routine?  I keep seeing headlines like “Top 10 things you should be adding to your self-care routine”.  My self-care routine? Oh, did you mean grooming? Are you freaking kidding me, I’m happy if I remember both my AM and PM moisturizers.  Oh, you didn’t mean grooming.  Well, what the hell do you mean?  Oh, you know self-care, well being, blah, blah, blah.  No, I don’t know what you mean.  Most days I’m living life hanging on by my fingernails and hoping my hands don’t get sweaty.  I’ve got lists for my lists so I can keep my highly distracted brain in check.  Hell, I even have a reminder to write this blog. My idea of a quiet moment is scrolling through Facebook or Instagram while on the toilet or listening to a podcast while on the elliptical machine.

In the past, I have been chastised for being too literal and direct.  Personally, I see nothing wrong with it.  Can we just say what we mean and mean what we say?  It’s not hard, y’all.

Photo Credit: Something free I found on the internet. I swear that is the face I make when I hear those two words.

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Rants

Crazy Old Lady

Old people crack me up, especially the ballsy, crazy old lady types. My Stepmother is one of these old ladies. She’ll be 81 in December and lives alone on the Florida coast. She drives a giant car and until recently smoked the stinkiest cigarettes she could find.  Her diet consists of at least one White Russian a day and whatever else she can scrounge up. One look in her pantry reveals various crackers, Coffeemate and Splenda packets but no real food. She doesn’t cook. She eats out for most meals. When Hurricane Dorian was announced last week, I asked if she had a plan and enough food and water.  She informed me she was fine.  When it appeared her area would receive a direct hit, I begged her to come to me in Texas. She refused to fly.  I offered to drive 20 hours to get her.  Again, she refused. As a native Floridian, she told me she had dealt with hurricanes all of her life. She claimed she’d never evacuated not even for Andrew in 1992 and she was not about to start. I just said, “Yes ma’am.” What else could I do?

A few hours ago she called to tell me the storm had passed and that she and her elderly neighbors were working together to get each other’s hurricane shutters down off the windows.  She said they were all tired of not being able to see outside and they refused to wait for the lawn crew to do it. Again, all I could say was “Yes ma’am” and thank her for letting me know. I know it’s futile to try to get in touch with the lawn crew. She thinks she’s 10 feet tall and bulletproof. This behavior is not new to me.  This is the same woman who flirts with waitstaff young enough to be her grandkids.  A woman who wears plunging necklines even though she shouldn’t.  Last year, while riding the Disneyworld Monorail with me and my daughter, she loudly lamented how horrible it would be to be so big you had to use one of those electric scooters to get around while a man fitting that description was in earshot. My daughter and I were mortified and I repeatedly told her to hush.  She has zero shits left to give so she just kept talking.  Deep down she knows she can pretty much pull anything she wants and can get away with it because of her age. It’s that no fear of consequences that makes me can’t wait to get old.  I mean yeah I can wait. I don’t want to be frail or wrinkly even though I know it’s coming. I just can’t wait to pull crazy in public.

I had one of those moments where I really wanted to pull crazy the other night. I was eating dinner alone at an In and Out Burger after my son’s football game. I was shocked to find only myself and one other guy eating inside the restaurant as it’s usually packed. About halfway through my meal, a young couple came in. They were between 17 and 25.  I know this is a giant age difference but I’m horrible at guestimating ages.  Anyway, they walked all hand in hand up to the counter and proceed not to order but to loudly and passionately kiss.  I’m not a prude.  I don’t mind a little PDA but these two looked like they were going to rip off all their clothes and do it on the white tile floor at any moment.  The poor kid behind the counter waiting for them to order looked like he wanted the floor to open up and grab him.  They were about three feet from my table and I, quite frankly, just wanted the free show to move along.  They finally broke apart long enough to order and found a table ridiculously close to mine.  Remember the whole restaurant is empty save me and another guy. They could have picked any other place.  So, they sit down right across from me and make out some more.  Apparently, they needed air or maybe their lips hurt because they stopped kissing long enough for the girl to whip out her phone and Facetime someone.  You would think this girl was making an international call on the 1960s transatlantic communications cable.  She was being so loud and animated. We are talking enunciating every word loudly and with jazz hands.  If I had not been more than halfway through my meal I would have left. I was SO done. She finally ended the call when the poor kid behind the counter called a number.  This is where I nearly lost it.  The kid called not one but two different numbers. You mean to tell me y’all waltzed in glued at the hip and dry humping each other in the middle of In and Out Burger and y’all are going Dutch?  Never in my life have I wanted to be a crazy old lady so bad. Yet, at my current age, I know its socially unacceptable to ball out a complete stranger. However, I already know what I would say. It goes a little something like this.

Death stare while first looking at the girl.  Honey, you’ve been trying to climb on this boy’s head for the last 15 minutes. I know we are in a fast food restaurant where everything is cheap, however, you are not so don’t act like it. Furthermore, if you’re going to act like that in public at least make him buy you dinner, don’t go Dutch, you deserve some payment for that play.  Boy, you’re obviously swimming in pussy and good for you but treat her with respect even though she clearly has none for herself. Then pivot and slowly walk away like a boss. Old people rule.

 

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Motherhood/Parenting

Back in My Day

abc books chalk chalkboardI am so jealous of parenting expectations from 25+ years ago.  I NEVER remember my parents or anyone’s parents for that matter, having to be as involved with their kids’ schooling as today’s parents have to be.  Don’t get me wrong, I like being involved.  During the elementary years, I did all the things.  I volunteered both in the classroom and at school in general.  I dutifully bought items for the teachers wish lists. I attended all the open houses and mandatory meetings. I signed all the forms and sent them back on time.

When my oldest went to middle school, I did much of the same things I did for elementary. I attended open houses and mandatory meetings.  I offered to volunteer but my email was never returned.  What I encountered more than anything was please send in four different checks all made out to the school for four different amounts for various things and please ensure you check these 4,000 different websites to ensure your child has their proverbial shit together.  Okay, so I exaggerate about the 4,000 different websites but the email goes a little like this:

Dear parent,
Please ensure you are checking Canvas daily so you will know what your child is supposed to do for homework.  Additionally, some teachers choose not to use Canvas because they can’t figure it out. Those teachers have their own way of doing things and you need to figure out which teachers those are and how they will be posting their information.  If you would like to see your child’s grades, those are on another platform that can only be accessed through a smartphone app but know that some teachers only post grades right before the grades are due per the district. However, you may want to stay on top of it so you can remind your student.

That paragraph you just read wasn’t a direct quote email but it wasn’t far from it.  It was a combination of an actual email and what a few teachers told us at the open house last week.  Remember last week how I groused about how much is too much? This is yet another instance.  We as a society keep griping about how young adults cannot fend for themselves yet we (the older generation) are enabling them not to fend for themselves.  And, this my friends is another example.  Back in my day (whispers – see what I did there) our parents didn’t keep up with our grades.  Sure we brought home a report card but other than that parents had no clue how we were doing in school.  We as students didn’t either unless our teacher gave back our papers or we asked the teacher to look at the grade book. I distinctly remember asking to see that grade book when I knew I was struggling.  I also remember certain teachers (Ms. Hughes – 3rd grade math) calling me to the desk to show me the grade book and informing me I needed to get it together and work a little harder.

Just last night I was riding one of my kids about their grades.  Of course, that child got an attitude and told me, “I have it under control.”  Clearly, they don’t.  We’ve only been back to school for three weeks and this kid is already failing one subject.  I yelled, “Do you want me to pretend is 1985 and just let you sink?  Do you not want me to care, ofter to help you study or take you to the tutoring sessions at school?  We can do that but I’m gonna let the teacher know I am totally hands off and this is all on you, chief.”  The child said yes, I sighed and then bitched to my husband that I don’t want to see our kid fail yet I don’t want to be an enabler.  This parenting crap was so much easier back in the day.

P.S. – Here’s another fun fact. Did you know my school district has forbidden teachers from using a red pen to grade papers? It has negative connotations. Well, no shit Sherlock. And, if you don’t want a negative connotation do better and you’ll see less red ink.  Or, don’t do better, think to yourself this teacher is crap and I won’t have them next year and ignore the red ink. The choice is entirely up to the receiver.

Photo Credit:  Free from the interwebs. I do love free.

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Motherhood/Parenting

Drowning in Drama

sea water blue sun

Years ago, I put a curse on myself. One of my friends, who happens to be famous for drama, announced that she had entered a point in her life where there was no more drama.  I literally laughed in her face and told her, “There is never no drama only different drama.” At that moment, the universe perked its ears up and laughed.  Then the universe proceeded to show me just how right my proclamation was in the worst kind of way – I became a mother.  And, I learned every time I thought I had something, anything, figured out when it came to raising my kids – everything changed.  This phenomenon occurred with the mundane like favorite socks to big things like potty training. This phenomenon still occurs but on a larger scale with high stakes issues like preteen girl interpersonal relationships and high school Algebra.  This high stakes drama has given me grey hair and wrinkles and I have no doubt in my mind it will give me an ulcer before these children are out of school.  Right now I’m up to my eyeballs in school drama which centers around the question of how much accountability and accommodation is too much.

In the last 20 years, there has been a huge push in the public school system for accountability and accommodation.  Accountability on the district and individual school to prove they are providing all children with a solid education.  Accommodations so that all may learn from the most gifted to most challenged. When you say those sentences out loud it makes so much sense. It seems like a given – like the sun rising and setting.  Yet, nothing about accountability and accommodation are easy.

Both of my children have one or more learning differences and social issues that were rarely addressed back in the day – ADHD, anxiety, and dyslexia to be specific.  The schools we’ve attended were always aware of the situation. Accommodation plans were put into place and almost everyone has been on board at least at the lip service level to implementing said accommodation plans. Yet, as time has gone on and I have become more involved in my children’s classrooms and in the field of early childhood development, I’ve noticed something.  More and more children have accommodation plans.  Many times there are children in the classroom whose plan is the complete opposite of many others in the classroom.  So riddle me this, how is a teacher with 20 kids, 10 of which have accommodation plans and half of those contradictory, supposed to teach a class all the things all the children are supposed to learn for the year to reach accountability goals? At what juncture do we all throw up our hands and say we are teaching it one way and one way only and those of you (my kids included) that can’t hang have to do something else?  I can guarantee the super-advanced kids are not getting the stimulation they need to really shine.  I can also guarantee the children who are really struggling are not getting the information doled out in a slow enough manner for those children to process.  I’m convinced this is why homeschooling is on the rise.

Cycling back to the accountability issue is the push for everyone to be college ready.  Many districts are requiring students to have completed the basic courses for entering college. What if a child doesn’t want to or doesn’t have the aptitude to go to a traditional four year college? Can that child take a modified list of classes geared toward trade school or two year college?  Typically, the answer is no.

Having said all that, I can safely say both me and one of my children are drowning.  While I want my child to have the accommodations necessary to succeed I also worry about the future.  The real world does not care about accommodations. The real world fires you from a job when you can’t hack it. It doesn’t matter if the reason you can’t hack it is you process information differently than most people.  Which leaves me asking how many accommodations can be made and what should be made?  Are those accommodations enough for my child to meet the accountability standards (i.e. to pass the class and the standardized tests)?  And, do these accommodations set up my child up for failure when the real world says no accommodations?  It’s questions like these that make homeschooling look more and more attractive every year.

 

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Musing

Milestone

momma and meThis past weekend brought a major milestone in my life. I am now older than my mother was at the time of her death.  It’s a hard concept to imagine. Most of the people reading this still have a living mother. If you’re my age, your mom is between 65 and 75.  My mother was not quite one month into her 45th year when she passed away.  I was 19. Back then, 45 seemed a lifetime away and in some ways it was. It’s funny how time changes perspective.

I laugh and say I can’t remember 19 but I can.  At 19, I thought I was grown.  After all,  I was a legal adult. I was paying my way in the world and I had buried my mother.  The only boxes I needed to mark off next was secure a real grown up career, get married and have kids. But, since I planned to never do the last two, I only had to get out of school and land that career.   It’s funny what can change in 26 years.

My career is over and done with; I now have a j.o.b.  My children are 12 and 14 and I’ve been married since 1997.  I am doing absolutely nothing that I expected to be doing should I be so lucky to reach 45.  In fact, at 19, I thought if I ever made it to 45 every minute after that would be gravy – a gift from the universe. That was kind of a stupid way of looking at it.  Isn’t every minute already a gift from the universe? Why did I think I needed to wait until I hit 45?

This past weekend really messed with my head. But, it did remind me of one of the many lessons I learned from my mother’s young death.  Life passes so quickly. Our time here is so fleeting. Yet, I find that I still forget that lesson on the regular and I need reminders. This past weekend was a reminder.  Those 26 years have passed in the blink of an eye. They are nothing more than a blur punctuated with major life events. I still have so much I want to do, so much I want to see and experience.  At the top of my list of things I still need to do is to watch my children grow up and hopefully be productive, well-adjusted and relatively happy members of society.  The next item is for me to grow up to be a crazy old lady like the Golden Girls.  I want my adult children to worry about what fresh brand of crazy I’m getting myself into.  And, more than anything, I hope neither of my kids has to navigate life at 19 or younger without me being around to help as needed.  A person can believe they are grown and don’t need their parents at 19 but there have been countless times when, despite her being the meanest woman I’ve ever know, I could have used my mother’s advice.

Photo Credit:  Not sure who took it but this is my mother holding an infant me. She was 25 or 26 depending on what month the photo was taken.  This is my favorite photo of us because she actually looks like she likes me and you can see my Granddaddy’s arm on the right side of the photo.  I wonder if someone had told her she would leave me 19 years later if she would have behaved differently.

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Motherhood/Parenting

First Day

img_0484We are less than a week to go in the count down to the start of a new school year.   We have school supplies bought.  Schedules have been printed.  Orientation has been attended. Open locker days and walk your schedule are both happening this week.  All the forms have been filled out and all the physicals and paperwork have been turned in. My oldest has been at football related camps at his soon to be high school for the last three weeks. Everything is in order or as in order as they can possibly be and still I don’t feel ready and I’m not the only one. My oldest is nervous about being in high school.  My youngest just flat out doesn’t want to go.  They don’t want summer to end.

I mentioned to both of the kids that not everyone gets to have a summer break. I reminded them that I work part time so I am home with them part of the day but that Dad never gets off except for vacation. I told them in a few years when they are out of high school and secondary school and have jobs they will more than likely not have summers off either.  I said something like it’s a rude awakening when you wake up one August and realize you aren’t going back to school, you aren’t shopping for school supplies and it’s just a random Tuesday and you have to be at work in an hour. Do you remember your first year without summer break?  I do. It sucked. It immediately made me want to re-enroll. I also remember thinking I will never again have to go to Walmart and buy school supplies.  I didn’t really account for the fact that I might have kids one day.  The worst of it was the time off and the random fun things in the middle of the week. It’s hard to go to the movies at 2 p.m. on a random Tuesday unless you work part time, are unemployed or on summer break.

On these final days on summer break I’m trying to work more random summer activities into each day.  All this week, as soon as I get off work, we will go to the local amusement park or buy a bunch of clearance water balloons and have a water balloon fight even though it’s so hot you can literally fry an egg on the pavement.  We will do crazy, silly and fun things.  And, I will try very hard not to think about my days of buying school supplies being numbered.

Photo Credit: Yes, this our very own attempt at frying an egg on the sidewalk. Our current temperature is 102. I’ll show you how it turns out net time.

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