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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Intimidated by the police? Guilty.

Recently, we were the subjects of bank fraud. After wasting time on the phone with the bank, and then even more time at the bank, generating basically no information, our next step was to file a police report. Time to head… ‘Downtown’. Da Da Dummmm! 

It’s intimidating just pulling into a police station. The police cars in the lot. The institutional brick building. The big sign that screams Police. I walked through the heavy double doors and up to the bullet proof window like I was being called to the teacher’s desks after passing notes. There were two officers sitting there, who didn’t even look up. That is, until I accidentally banged my head on the glass. Turns out, there was no window, just a glass wall.

Ow.

I looked around and noticed the men looking at me.

“Can I help you?” one asked.

“Uh, uh…” I stammered. Oh my God! I was in the principal’s office. I didn’t do it!! “I, uh, need to file a police report.”

I watched a tall man in uniform stand up and then disappear. Where’d he go?

Suddenly, a door to the side of me opened, and an unsmiling face ordered, “Come with me.”

OMG I didn’t do it!!! 

I could only nod and obey.

The officer led me to a room, where he told me to sit and wait. Alone, I looked around. There were trophies on shelves, a flag, some commemoration plaques. In the corner, cardboard boxes were stacked in a disorderly fashion. I started tapping my fingers on the long wood table.

What was taking so long? I checked my phone. I tapped. I checked. I tapped. I checked.

I had a thought and my neck snapped around. Were there cameras? Were they…. watching me??

Just then, another officer walked in. He was younger and shorter, but with the same serious expression. Apparently, there was no smiling in law enforcement. That was probably the first thing you learn at the academy.

He sat down, pulled out a pen and paper, and got to business. “So tell me what happened.”

“Well, there were at least four accounts opened fraudulently where they transferred money out from our accounts..”

“How much money was stolen?”

“Well none technically be…”

“Wait, wait. Hold up.” He interrupted and sat back in his chair, assessing me cooly. “You said they transferred  monies.”

Uh, easy Blue. Did he think I was playing him? Was I about to take the rap?? OMG! I was going DOWN!

I collected myself and explained, slowly. “They transferred the money out of the accounts, but they were still pending when my husband alerted the bank, so I don’t believe any money was actually stolen.”

He nodded and went back to writing. Whew. He didn’t crack me, but from then on, I carefully stuck to the script, revealing only pertinent (that’s police for important) information.

He finished up the report and pushed it my way for approval. I scanned his words. “It’s good.” I said. It was over, but unfortunately my relief translated into small talk when I noticed his sign off, PO Newman.

“Po?” I asked innocently. “Is that your name?”

He came one breath short of snorting with derision. “Police officer.” He said, the idiot remained unspoken, but it was as loud as a bull horn.

I walked out and got into my car totally annoyed. Take yourself a little seriously officer? Sheesh. I was feeling rebellious when I decided to leave the parking lot without wearing my seat belt. Oh yeah, I would. You don’t intimidate me PO!

I pulled out of my spot, feeling wild and free. I put the car into drive and was heading off into the sunset, when I heard him yelling. “Hey!”

Gulp.

I looked back and there he was, standing on the steps motioning to me. Oh my GOD! He knows!! I’m so busted!!  I’m ready to come out with my hands up!  I opened the door and tentatively stuck my head out. “Uh. Yeah?”

He walked over to the car and handed me a copy of the report. “You forgot this.”

“Oh, uh, thanks.”

No return smile.

I immediately strapped myself and in and pulled away. Whew. I made out. A weight lifted as I drove down toward home, but for some reason, I kept looking in my rear view mirror for those spinning lights.

 

Anyone got a nail file?

Anyone got a nail file? (That’s icescreammama for I need a manicure.)

Why I let my son take a ‘day off’ each week.

“Is it Thursday yet, mommy?” My five year-old asked, looking fetchingly into my eyes.

“Uh no, honey. It’s Monday. You know that.”

“Can I take a day off of school today?” More wide-eyed hopefulness.

“Sweetie, we’ve just come off the weekend. You take your day off on Thursday.”

“How long till Thursday?”

I sighed. “You know the days of the week. You figure it out.”

It was time for the bait and switch. “Hey, let’s go check out that new cereal you picked out in the supermarket the other day.”

“Yeah!” He exclaimed. “I wanna mix the Trix and the Mini-Wheats and the Honey Nut Cheerios!” His curls bounced as he skipped toward the kitchen. Mission accomplished.

It’s the same every week. In fact, almost every day. Julius enjoys pre-school, but obviously, he’d rather be home, which is why I let him have a day off each week. It doesn’t bother me. After this year, he’s in Kindergarten and there are no more weekly ‘days off’. I like hanging out with him, and Pre-school, while important, is not as important as hanging out together.

At least to me.

“What? Another day off?” His teacher says almost every Friday when we go back to school. She smiles at Julius, but looks at me like I’ve just fed him bugs. “I should give you a spanking,” She jokes.

Yeah. Not funny.

My mother and husband also take a page from her book.

Husband – “You are such a sucker.”

Mother – “I don’t think it’s a good idea. You’re not setting a good example for what his responsibilities are regarding school.”

Even some of the other school moms raise a brow.

To all of them I say a big wet, “PPPPPFFFTTTTHHH!”

Am I missing something? For the life of me, I can’t figure out what the problem is. I let my nursery kid take a day off to spend with his mommy each week, and everyone has something to say about that. Since when is quality time with your child open to negative scrutiny. Pre-school is just that. Pre School. They are not learning academics; they focus on socialization and structure. It’s preparation. It’s laying the foundation. It’s not a mandatory. It’s just become the popular norm.

My son knows what ‘clean up’ time is. He knows how to build blocks with another child without throwing them. He can sit in a circle and participate. He knows his ABC’s, 123’s and all that. He’s got Pre-K down.

This is the last hoorah for me and my baby, while he’s still – okay not really, but let me pretend for this last year – a baby. There’s plenty of time for  classrooms, and not enough time for ice cream and playing with Mommy.

So on Thursday, when he looks at me with his big brown eyes and asks, “Mommy is today my day off?”

I’ll nod yes, happily. Because I love our days off just as much as he does.

ice cream share

Congratulations! You have a girl! Nah, just kidding.

His tie was the kind you find on crazy people. Or comedians. Turns out he was both. Except he was also one of the OB/GYN’s in my practice. We were supposed to rotate through all the doctors, since technically, you never knew who would be on call when you went into labor. Somehow, I didn’t get around to meeting Dr. Biden until I was 7 months pregnant.

“Hey there.” He said, sliding his stool in between my open legs. “How’s my girl doing?”

My husband and I exchanged a glance. We had never met this doctor, and he was looking at my vagina. He couldn’t be talking to my vagina, could he? That might qualify as inappropriate.

Wait. Maybe he meant the baby? But we had decided not to find out the sex. We were big into the surprise, no matter how much it irked my grandmother.

“Excuse me,” I interrupted. “Are we having a girl? We don’t know the sex.”

He dramatically rolled his stool away from my open legs and snapped off his rubber gloves. I closed up shop, and sat up, looking at him expectantly.

“Oh, I don’t know.” He shrugged, “But that’s all I deliver.”

What was he saying? My husband and I looked at him apprehensively.

“Yep. I got two girls at home, and that’s all I deliver.”

Was I in the psych ward? I couldn’t stop staring at his Sylvester and Tweetie tie. Someone was definitely a bit Looney Tunes.

“Okay,” I braved cautiously and slowly. “So… what if I have a boy?”

“He does it.” He pointed to my husband.

“Me?” Howard asked, appalled. You couldn’t take Howard’s pulse, without him getting woozy.

“Yup, you.” He stood up to leave.  “Got any other kids?”

“One. A boy.” I answered automatically, still confused and distressed by this entire encounter.

“What’s her name?”  He asked, with half his body out the door.

“It’s a boy.” I repeated. “His name is Tyler.”

“Well, she’s going to be a big sister soon!” Wide crazy grin, and he’s out.

“What the hell was that?” I asked my husband.

“That was crazy.” Howard concurred.

“Do you think he was just covering up for accidentally telling us the sex of the baby?”

“Definitely possible.”

“I really hope he’s not on call when I deliver.”

“Copy that.”

March 22, 10:30am.

I got to the hospital already 7cm dilated. Howard ran thru 3 red lights to get us there, which is so impressive for my by the book attorney husband. If I wasn’t about to have a baby, I might just be turned on.

Through major contractions, I struggled to answer the questions required from a nurse who was as impassive as I was aflame. While I grit my teeth and writhed in pain, she apathetically repeated her unanswered question. “Allergies?”

Before I could scream my answer, a new question from a new voice interrupted.

“How’s my girl?” I heard, taking my pain to a whole new level.

My doctor had arrived.

“If you think you’re in pain,” He joked. “Try being shot three times.”

WTF? My face must have been quite the contortion of agony and horrified bewilderment.

“Oh yeah,” he continued, moving to lift his shirt, “want to see my scars?”

“No!” me, my husband and several of the nurses shouted simultaneously.

“Ignore him.” One of the nurses said to us, “He’s always messing around.”

“How bout you and I mess around?” Dr. Biden said suggestively and I think my amazement actually momentarily overrode my contraction.

It went like that for bit, one inappropriate comment after another. We were assured multiple times by the nurses that he was in fact a real doctor. And a good one. When the time came, my baby was out in three pushes.

On the last, I saw the doctor pull back from my body and motion to my husband. “Come here, now.”

My husband, already woozy from just being in the vicinity of a bleeding person, looked as if he were going to pass out. He shook his head.

“Come on, someone has to.”  Dr. Biden pulled away from my body further, and there was a beat of panic in the room.

Shakily, Howard moved in, seemingly at the last moment, and brought our baby out into this world. With the help of a nurse, he placed our newborn on my stomach.

“Congratulations! You have a girl!” Dr. Biden announced.

“We have a girl.” I thought, full of emotion and joy.

“Uh, no we don’t.” My husband’s voice interrupted my baby is out of my vagina euphoria. I snapped back to crazy, hormonal new mom.

“What the hell do I have!!!???”

“I’m looking at penis here.” Howard said and we both looked at the doctor wearing his best ‘who me’ face.

“What? I told you, I only deliver girls.”

Happy birthday, my feisty, green-eyed boy with the mischievous smile and fetching charm.  You could put the sun out of business, the way you light up a room and warm my heart. You have been the happiest surprise right from the start.

*When I went back to the office at 6 weeks, I heard Dr. Biden was out on medical leave. I’m betting on psychiatric.

DCF 1.0

Can you stand that gorgeous face?!

Can you stand that gorgeous face?!

 

Just a bad day

I’m cold.

I know it’s officially Spring, but the air is still crisp, and with the up and down temperatures this winter, my body has never adapted. I feel almost naked, and I hunker down in my coat as the wind whips my face. I have a ‘thing’ at the school that I’m in no mood for.  Just getting to the car leaves me chilled to the bone. Lately, I’ve been wondering if I’m going to have to do the Florida migration in a couple of years. My body really hates the cold.

I left the house annoyed and unhappy. I had a bad day and it leaked into my night. It was a repeat of the night before and possibly the one before that. It comes like that, in waves, and sometimes I just can’t shake it; my dark mood wrapped as tightly around my neck as my grey wool scarf. I don’t know why the things that I usually casually brush off won’t budge, like my shovel in wet, heavy snow. I don’t know why I let it all settle, deep in my gut. How can I feel so heavy, yet so empty?

It could have been the boys, just being boys, fighting, teasing, playing too rough. And me, being overwhelmed.

Or, it could have been the never-ending laundry, pile of dishes and errands. And me, being overwhelmed.

Or it could have been my depressed, dysfunctional, disabled father throwing his burden on my back, needing more and more of my energy and assistance. And me, being overwhelmed.

It could just be my nature. I’m prone to deep thinking, and it is not always my friend. There’s so much to appreciate and yet, life is death. It’s a cold slap of reality that I never fully realized till my mid to late thirties. And now, I’ve never felt so keenly aware of how vapor thin life is. How delicate. How a strong gust of wind can push someone over the edge, just like that.

I arrive at the school and watch the people walking past. Some walk purposefully, others stroll arm in arm with a spouses or friends. I close my eyes and rest my head back against the seat. The radio is talking news, talking weather, talking sports. It’s as soothing as a sound machine set to waterfall. I don’t want to get out of the safety of the car. I don’t want to put on a happy face.

But I know I will. I always do.

I shiver and pull my coat tightly around me. It’s really not even that bad out. They’re predicting milder temperatures tomorrow. I hope so. I really can’t wait to feel the sun.

 

You really look terrible in that shirt. And fix your hair.

Yesterday, with the sun warming my face and last night’s ice cream still cool in my belly, I decided to take my running sneakers out of hibernation and hit the streets for my first run of the new year. Although I exercise regularly, I only run outside in fair weather. With the temperature nearing 50 degrees, my brain was itching for the fresh air instead of the stale gym odors that I had been inhaling all winter.

So I layered up and set out; one foot in front of the other, trip trapping down my street. It had been while, but it felt good. I missed going on autopilot through my neighborhood, while losing myself in my head. What would I think about today? I wondered and considered my options.

Should I wallow over my father’s declining state? That could get me through miles.

Or, should I think of snappy comebacks to the friend who recently said, “Wow, it’s so great that you can just go out without doing anything to yourself. I could never do that.”

Oh, I got it! How bout….  “You’re right. You totally look better with makeup.”

Wait! No! Better… “Thanks. It’s true. You really need self-confidence to pull it off.”

Hmm.. I’ll get back to that.

There’s always the to-do list. First shower, then supermarket, dry cleaners, stop for Dunkin Donut’s coffee, pick up kid…

Wow, figuring out what I’m going to think about has gotten me through over a mile. Yay. I should probably think about what to wear to tomorrow night’s School Social. Certainly not pants like the lady who just walked past me. Really? Flesh colored leggings? I don’t know anyone who can pull that off. I almost want to follow her and let her know that unless she’s auditioning for ‘What Not To Wear’, they should never be worn again.

In my college sweatshirt, skull cap, striped gloves and yoga pants that make my thighs look too heavy, I have no business criticizing anyone, yet I have to fight the urge to share my feelings.

Maybe it’s genetic. It would be something my grandma would have done. I can still remember her walking over to poor, unsuspecting strangers and saying things like, “Honey, no one’s going to tell you, but that lipstick color looks horrible on you.”

I always died a little, totally mortified, but now, decades later, it doesn’t seem like the worst idea. I mean, yeah, it can be seen as judgmental, but maybe it’s just being helpful. Maybe, sometimes we all need someone like that; a ‘truth teller’ in the form of a well-meaning stranger.

I mean who else would tell you these things? Certainly not your friends. No way will your friends tell you how fat you look in your jeans, or that –

Wow! The lady I just passed must be bathing in perfume.

What was I thinking? I might have blacked out there a moment. Oh, right, friends. They love you and don’t want to hurt your feelings. They can’t be completely honest.

I don’t know if the sweat has seeped into my brain, but I think this is a kick ass idea. I can open a school and train people on proper approach, having good ‘street-side’ manner, and of course, how to diffuse an offended person’s wrath. My people will be like secret agents. Employers will hire us to do an office walk-thru. Friends will hire us to say things they can’t say. It’s a public service. It’s genius!

I can’t believe it. I’m almost home. That was fantastic.

Wait, I just came up with the best comeback to my friend’s comment. Ready?

“You’re right. But you know, saying things like that is the reason a lot of people don’t like you.”

Boom!

Brutal Honesty. My grandma would have loved it. But would people actually appreciate the truth whispered to them by an unknown judge?

I don’t know, but i’ll have to think about it next time. I’ve just run out of steam.

Brittney, Let's talk about that bra. I'm here to help.

Brittney, let’s talk about that bra. I’m here to help.

Like the fingers on my hand, each one is different

“Mommy, look, my hand is almost as big as yours!” Julius exclaimed, placing his little hand against mine.

I studied the smooth, five year-0ld fingers, stretching themselves out, trying desperately to seem bigger. I folded my fingers over, covering his. “You are so big!” I say, looking into his earnest, brown eyes. “How did that happen?”

“I don’t know.” He shrugs, and breaks free from my hold to bounce up and down. A jumble of dark curls bounce with him. “I just growed.”

“You certainly did.” I want to cry, but it’s breakfast time, not crying time. I place a bowl of mixed cereals by his place at the table, but he is still bouncing around me. I actually think the only time he stops moving is when he’s sleeping.

My seven year-old enters. Fair skinned, fair-haired and light-eyed, Michael’s expression is the only dark thing about him. He does not greet the day with a smile. “Hey, baby.” I tip-toe around his moods, but it’s hard with Julius hopping like a bunny at my feet. “Want pancakes?”

“I don’t want anything.”  He scowls at me, but his eyes are so green and his face is so delicate and small, that I have a hard time not just grabbing that face and kissing him, which he would hate. “Okay, let me know when you change your mind.” I sing like Snow White, which is annoying to me, so I’m not surprised when his response is a growl.

I check the clock. Crap. My 10 year-old still isn’t down.  I woke him twice already. Or, at least I thought I woke him. I race the stairs.

“Tyler. Come on, baby! Get up.” He is such a good, deep sleeper that I always just want to leave him be. Of course I don’t, but looking at his relaxed, boyish face snuggled under covers, reminds me of the baby he is, I mean, was. I hug him awake, and he responds with a sleepy grin.

“Mornin’, sunshine.” He really is sunshine. His eyes are gold. His hair is gold. He has always been a golden boy. I try to extract myself gently, but he pouts for more hugging. Finally, against my inner needy mommy, I push him off. “Let’s get moving.” I toss his clothes on top of him. “Don’t forget your socks.” I call as I head back down to the kitchen.

I am greeted by Michael demanding pancakes and Julius circling me like a puppy begging me to play Legos. Tyler slumps in, still sleepy, reaching for another hug.  I give him one, along with a granola bar.

I marvel at each of my sweet babies at the table and my late grandma’s words echo in my ears, “Like the fingers on your hand, each of them different, special, yet part of the same.” These are my children. Whoever they are. Whoever they grow to be. And I will hold their hands until I have to let go.

Different in every way...except in how much I love them.

Different in every way, except in how much I love them.

 


TKD puts my parenting to the test

My seven year-old son, Michael, started doing Tae Kwon Do when he was three. I loved that hour watching him in his crisp, white uniform through the foggy glass partition. He did his stance and said, “Yes sir!” He tried to mirror jumping jacks, not quite coordinated enough to get his arms and legs moving together.  He learned his five basics. He was a tiny figure of strength and determination. I couldn’t get enough.

Almost three years later, Michael’s uniform may not have been as crisp, but his love with TKD was still fresh. It gave him confidence and a sense of pride. I wasn’t as in love with the overly disciplined environment, but I couldn’t argue the results. Plus, any small bump we hit, Michael high jumped right over. Now, he was getting ready to test for his purple belt, pretty impressive for just six years-old.

before the test...

Before the test…

The TKD tests are like a military recital in a sweaty, tense room stuffed with family, instructors and kids, for well over an hour.  The Master sits at a platform, scrutinizing and shouting orders. He could be tough on the kids. In the right (or wrong) mood, he pushed the kids and even taunted them. An imposing figure and an 8th degree black belt, he didn’t have to try too hard to make them nervous. He certainly made me nervous.

It was only Michael and two other six year-olds testing that day for Purple. The three had gone up through the ranks together. Small but mighty. I sat on the sidelines, biting my nails while watching him at the center of the mat, being ordered to display his mastery over his moves.  Unlike me, Michael was confident and poised. He and his friends breezed through their requirements. I breathed. It was a mistake.

“20 push-ups!” The Master yelled, and the boys dropped to the floor and did their best imitation of a push-up, while shouting out the count. They struggled, but with effort made it to 20.

They waited in push-up position to be released. Instead, the Master ordered, “10 more push-ups!” Shaking slightly, the boys did 10 more, their push-ups more like just-ups. They could barely even go down.

The Master shouted again, “You want more push-ups?”

Together they screamed, “No sir!”

“10 more push-ups!”

Their little bodies struggled once more. It was turning into a sorry display. People were beginning to look away. I wish I could look away, but my welled-up eyes were glued to the center of the mat and my son’s intent, determined face.

“You want more push-ups?” The Master tested again after they finished.

The instructors circled, mouthing something to the boys. 

“No, Sir!” Their tiny voices squeaked. One of the boys was visibly crying.

“10 more!” The Master yelled again and down their blonde heads and tiny bodies went, no longer shouting, almost sobbing till they pitifully reached 10.

I was torn, completely torn. I wanted to stand up and scream, “Stop this! Who the hell do you people think you are?” But I sat there, with all the other parents, tears streaming down my face, my 6 year-old holding it together better. I just couldn’t believe what I was witnessing along with about 50 other people. Was this okay? This didn’t seem okay at all. It seemed like abuse. Why were we all just watching?! Why wasn’t I stopping this ridiculousness?! 

It pains me to admit, but it took another round, with all the instructors and me shouting the correct answer at them, before the boys actually understood that they needed to say “Yes, sir!” for the Master to stop punishing them.

Finally, it was over. I was horrified, disgusted and ashamed. I had failed my child.

What could I do to make it up to him? I walked to him sheepishly, my arms wide open, where my mouth had stayed firmly shut.  After a hug, I told Michael he could quit if he wanted to.

He shrugged it off and me as well. “It’s okay, mom.” Then, he beamed radiantly and proudly lifted his hard earned prize. “Look at my new belt!”

I smiled through my tears. “You did amazing. I’m so proud of you.” And I was. I just wanted to kill the Master. Instead, I ushered my kid out and took us all for ice cream.

Michael passed his test that day, but I still wonder if, as a mother, I passed mine.

getting his brown belt, he and the master, still friends. i still want to kick his ass.

This year, getting his brown belt. He and the Master still friends. I still want to kick his ass.