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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Stop driving me crazy!

I’m sure the whole neighborhood is talking about me. I mean, I would be talking about me, if I saw me, standing out there in the middle of the street shouting down cars like a crazy lady. But I have a perfectly legitimate reason for my behavior.

People can’t drive.

I know that’s rich coming from the girl who recently got her car stranded on top of a divider, but it’s not really that they can’t drive, more that they’re entitled, careless drivers.  They speed down residential streets where children pounce like puppies. They don’t even pretend that the glaring red octagon of civil law means anything. I’m not even talking about a slow, look both ways roll-thru, I’m talking blowing it, full on.

Unless they are all illiterate pregnant women about to give birth, this is a problem for me.

On any given day, anywhere between three and eight children populate my front lawn. They play running bases. They play soccer. They have baseball catches, frisbee throws, water balloon fights.

I stand on my lawn surrounded by the wild children and in between handing out ice pops or chatting with a friend, loudly scream at offending vehicles, “Slow down!” Or, “Are you kidding me??”

Sometimes, I aggressively stand in the street, forcing them to slow down. On one occasion, I snapped a picture of a license plate.  On more than one occasion, I was embarrassed to discover it was a neighbor I was shouting at. But then, I wasn’t embarrassed, because I have children to protect. Okay, I was still embarrassed.

Still, thank goodness, no one had ever confronted me, until today. As I was unloading groceries, a black car pulled up next to me, and a woman I didn’t know, called out and said, “I’ve been waiting to catch you for months now.”

Uh oh.

“Yeah, you yelled at me to slow down.”

Shit. “Really? Uh, I’m sorr-”

“I just wanted to apologize and tell you that you were right.”

“Oh. Okay. Thanks.”

Then she drove away at a very responsible speed.

Well, hot damn. Validation. Someone actually listened.

So while my kids are out there chasing balls, you’ll find me out there with them, chasing cars.

A mom’s got to do what a mom’s got to do.

running stop sign

Oh for the love of ice cream, someone call AAA!

We had 25 minutes to meet my husband and oldest son at his baseball game, which was only seven minutes away, when I passed my favorite yogurt store and made an impromptu decision – fantasized about for the entire day – to stop and get myself a cup.

“Nooooooo!” my two younger boys groaned from the backseat. “No stopping!”

I shot them my mean mom stare. “I don’t want to hear that. I do everything for you guys. You can eat ice cream for me. Sheesh.”

They just rolled their eyes, and shook their heads at my pathetic desperation. Who were these judgmental ice cream haters?

“It’ll just be a quick pit-stop.” I say, overly cheerful. The nearness to my fix makes me a little wild-eyed and fidgety.

We park in the closest spot, and within minutes, I am ordering myself a peanut butter and cappuccino covered in chocolate crunchies. Neither my five or eight year-old want anything. Really?

We’re back in the car lickety-split. “See, I told you guys. Perfect timing!”

I put the car in gear and go… straight over something. Oops. What was that? A curb? A small divider? Eh. Whatever. I’ll just keep going.

I hit the gas. The front of the car dips down over the curb? Bump? Divider? We stop. I try to go forward, but there is an ominous scratching sound. Uh oh.

“What’s that noise, mommy?” My eight year-old asks.

“Uh, nothing.” I hit the gas again. The screeching noise returns and the car won’t budge. I put it in reverse. Won’t budge. This could be bad.

“Are we stuck?” the backseat interrogator asks.

Out the window, people walking past stare at us with their mouths hanging open in horrified amazement, or possibly amusement.  A car goes by and the driver stares directly at me. I can read the slow motion words on his lips. “Oh Shiiiiit.”

There was nothing left to do, but get out and see the damage.

car stuck close up

Oh shit.

By now, a crowd had gathered to gawk and giggle at the dumb mom who can’t drive, and her amazing unmovable vehicle. Can’t go forward. Can’t go backward. Hear it wail in agony. Or, that might just be me.

I needed to call AAA, but first I needed to call…. my husband. Da Da Dummmm!

I was afraid, first because the car had recently been fixed from the bump in the night a few months back. Second, because last week, I did something similar over a rock.

car accident

Impressive, right?

My son’s game was minutes from starting.

“Hey, where are you?” My husband answers, all business.

“I had a little accident.”

From the backseat peanut gallery, “Mommy ran over a parking lot!”

“I did not run over a parking lot!” I huff.

Long exhale from my husband. “Is everyone okay?”

“Everyone is fine. Not sure about the car, though.”

“Okay, just call AAA. Don’t worry.” Don’t worry? He must have been surrounded by parents and children. Hope they all come home with him.

I look over to my yogurt; the crunchies perfectly melted into the sweet creamy goodness. If I wouldn’t have stopped, we would be at my son’s game right now, and my sons wouldn’t be chanting from the backseat, “Mommy can’t drive! Mommy can’t drive!”

I leisurely reached for the cup. Wasn’t like we were going anywhere.

car stuck tow truck

My hero!

car stuck tow ramp

Freed!

Freed!

Moving up. And moving on.

This week, I attended end of year ceremonies for two of my boys. One from nursery and one from elementary school. Now I know these don’t really count as graduations, more like transitions, or changes of address, but they are momentous in their own right. Especially for me.

After eight years, my time in nursery school has finally come to a close. On one hand, I am so happy to be out of those halls where I was constantly tripping over people who came up to my knees, and ‘ohhing’ and ‘ahhing’ over artwork that looked like a two year-old did it. Oh, right.

But on the other hand, I’m miserable. My youngest baby is growing up. We’ll no longer have our days off together. He’ll become part of the larger system, one not as accessible to me.

I look back at pictures of him when he first entered. A baby, really. I mean he still is a baby now, but not really. Even though he still adorably whispers his secrets from his ear to mine, I can’t ignore his maturity, his humor, his knowing, third kid savvy.

Even though it’s time for the next step, I want to pick him up, hug him to me and not put his feet back on the ground. If he can’t walk, he can’t step. Right?

My 10 year-old is moving on as well – to middle school. I vividly remember putting him on the bus for Kindergarten. It was traumatic for both of us. Even now, I could cry thinking about it. Okay, I am crying. But that child who struggled to get on the bus, now rides in the back with his posse and loves it.

The baby who wouldn’t get up to sing at his Kindergarten moving up ceremony, the only child in the grade, took the stage as a third grader and performed a lead role in the school play. It is up there with the best moments of my life.

The child who sat shyly, never even asserting himself to go to the bathroom, holding it all day, now sometimes needs reminding to sit in his seat and stop talking to his friends.

The child who never asked for play dates, so happy to just be home, now has a great group of buddies and hangs out with them regularly.

He has grown so much, but he also is still so much that baby. If he weren’t so heavy, I’d pick him up along with my five year-old and eight year-old, to keep us all from taking those next steps. I want to bubble all my boys up and keep them tied to me like balloons around my wrist. If I’m honest, I don’t really want to let them fly. I’ll give them some string, but I feel much better with them tied to me.

But of course, that’s not realistic. I can’t stop time, any more than I can’t stop progress. They march on, just like my babies proudly making their way up to the podium. We’re moving on up, and it’s time for me to get with the program. Hand me the tissues.

leo grad jack grad

okay, so he didn't technically graduate, but he did finish 2nd grade. And come on, look how cute he is.

Okay, so he didn’t technically graduate, but he did finish 2nd grade. And come on, look how cute he is.

Keep dreaming, baby.

“Time to wake up,” I say and gently shake my 10 year-old. I never like waking him. He sleeps so soundly, like a baby bear in winter, albeit one with a severe balding problem.

I used to just think I lucked out with an easy baby, but now I know the truth. Tyler is a dreamer. Not the day-dreaming type, although at times, he does seem to exist in his own world. No, Tyler is a night dreamer, prone to vivid, dramatic escapades. Often, he’ll wake with such a tale to tell, you’d think he’d just been to the movies. There might be battles of revolutionary proportions. There might be flying or swimming with sharks. He might save the world or just his own skin.

“Come on, baby.” I coo, but Tyler barely moves a muscle. I give him the five minute warning and head down to the kitchen. Today is his graduation from elementary school. Come September, my sweet boy will be in middle school, walking with his friends instead of taking the bus, carrying a cell phone, as well as a more little swagger and snark.

While it doesn’t seem like yesterday when I first put him on the bus for Kindergarten, it doesn’t seem like six years ago either. He stepped into that school a baby and now he’s a boy. He’ll step into middle school a boy, and he’ll step out a teenager. He’s on his way to growing up.

“Who wants pancakes?” I ask my two younger boys, already at the table.

“I want cereal.” Tyler announces, finally making an appearance.

“Good graduation morning,” I say brightly and he comes directly to me for a long, still sleepy hug.

“I had a great dream.” He says, eyes lit with excitement.

“Tell me,” I encourage, and he shares a story where he is the hero of a battle, flying over fields, dodging attacks, outsmarting legions of men.

I love his dreams, they’re rich and dazzling, and he’s always the star. I can’t remember the last dream I had with any sort of intensity. I don’t even think I dream much anymore. At the very least, I don’t really remember any of them. I wonder if it’s me. If my brain is too cluttered with every day to dream? If, like the follicles of a womb, dreams are numbered and soon I’ll have no dreams left? Or, maybe dreams really are visions of the young.

I used to fly in my dreams. Even 30 years later, the lightness and freedom of those dreams linger. I can still almost feel them. But it’s been a long time.

I hope he never loses his ability to fly, to be the hero, the star of his own exciting adventure. His life is unmarked territory, the path wide open. There are real battles ahead, loves to pursue and monsters to conquer.  I hope he keeps dreaming, and I hope he lives his dreams. Except maybe the ones where he’s fighting sharks and stuff.

sleeping grad day

bad mommy. 😉

The wheels on the bus go on and on …

8:15am

Even though I was clutching a Dunkin Donuts cup, and standing outside of the elementary school with a slew of 5th graders all bouncing around on the natural caffeine called ‘youth’, my morning fog had not yet lifted. Or maybe I was in Ninja mode, mentally preparing for what just pulled up – four big, coaches, with enough seats to hold the entire fifth grade class, teachers and chaperones. It was no limo, but at least it wasn’t a yellow school bus.

On, we piled, the kiddies noisily and clumsily hopping from seat to seat, laughing and negotiating who sat where and with whom, like puppies playing musical chairs. I saw the long rush hour road ahead, and the dread settled, in a way the children never would.

It was then that the driver stepped on.  Immediately, all mouths stopped and dropped. He was Secret Service, CIA, body guard to Mike Tyson. This was no fifth grade class trip. This was the next Men in Black movie.  “I’m your driver, Mr. X, let’s all just sit back and enjoy a nice smooth ride. Thank you.” Uh, yes sir, Mr. X, sir.

And we were off.

The next hour was an explosion of all things annoying.

Children singing, “There’s a party in my Tummy, so Yummy, so yummy” over and over again.

The DVD player on the bus produced a movie but no sound.

The reprimand to one child of, “Please, don’t play with the window shades” resulted in twenty-five children going, “Ohhh, there are shades?”

A boy locked himself in the bus bathroom. The driver did not have a key, and the door had to be pried open.

At some very motivated girls’ persistence, the driver blasted Z-100. In between poppy songs was a phone scam where the Disc Jokey? DJ? Radio personality? started accusing a woman of being a “Crack Ho.”

Three parents almost fell over themselves to get the driver to change stations.

When we reached our destination, and the driver opened the doors to freedom, we all practically fell out, overjoyed to be released from the clutches of rolling chamber of torture. Little did we know that we would look back on the morning bus ride with pleasure.

4:40pm

Exhausted after the long day, we stand in the busy theater district, waiting. Hundreds of people are passing by and we are trying desperately to keep the twenty-five children contained. But as the clock tick tocks, the children grow restless. They chase each other in circles, they pull apart in small groups, they climb on fire hydrants, and hover near the curb.

A half hour later, we are still on the same NYC street, the mess of kids getting messier.

Two beautiful  eleven year-old girls, snarky and unafraid, with big eyes and bigger mouths, are caught giggling at strange men passing by, and asking, “Do you like unicorns?”

We pull them in by the scruff of their puppy necks. I’m sweating here.

Boys, corralled a hundred times, still somehow drift near the busy street.

Where is the damn bus! I am having an anxiety attack.

Finally, after another 15 minutes, the blessed bus finally arrives and the kids are ushered on. When I walk past Mr. X, I take a whiff. He says an accident detained him. I wanted to make sure it wasn’t an, I accidentally lost track of the time while throwing back a few at the bar, accident.

All finally aboard, we were beyond ready. The kids happily took their seats. We fell into ours, ecstatic. I was about 40 minutes away from a big ass glass of wine.

Mr. X took the helm, started the engine, put the bus in gear and… What was that? What just happened?

Did we hit something? Did something hit us? Did we even move yet?

Mr. X shut off the bus and turned to face us. “We’ve just been swiped by that taxi. I’ll be right back.”

Then he walked off. Once again, all our mouths hung open. Immediately, twenty-five kids plastered their faces to the right side window. Okay, we did too.

“Look! the taxi has a dent!”

“Look! They’re yelling at each other!”

“Look! There’s a cop!”

“Look there’s a cop on a horse!”

mountie

With the Mounties arrival, the drama thickened. Our Superspy driver, who let drop that he was also an off-duty cop, looked like he was in the middle of some serious negotiations.

cops gathering

We waited. We waited some more.

The back of the bus was getting rowdy. Pretzels flew across the aisles. Somehow the bathroom door got locked again. Chants of “We have to Pee!” started rising, slowly, then with increasing strength. With a heavy sigh, the one male parent aboard journeyed to the back of bus. We didn’t know if we’d ever see him again.

It was after 6pm. The kids were starving, and the girls who had to pee, now really had to pee. A subvert mission was in order. Me and another parent gathered the five girls together and, in the chaos, snuck off the bus.

Directly in front of us was Sardi’s, the famous old Broadway restaurant. We barged right in. The mom at the front of our pack, quickly assessed the situation and without flinching, or saying a word to the host at the podium before us, broke right for the stairs and stormed up.

As the caboose of the mission, I watched the man’s mouth drop a bit as I ushered the girls up the stairs of the grand and extremely crowded restaurant. The last thing I saw was him pick up the phone. I was pretty certain he was calling security.

We made it into the bathroom. If we were caught, giggles would have been our undoing. After leaving the bathroom attendant $7 tip for her silence, we marched out, strode down the stairs, out the door and didn’t look back.

Pission, I mean, mission accomplished.

Back on the bus, it seemed we had finally hit the wall. Kids were whining to call their parents, chaperones were asking if we could just take the train home. We were hungry, cranky, tired and fed up.  Mr. X re-boarded, police report in hand, and said we were good to go just in the nick of time.

730pm

We pull back into the school, an hour and a half after scheduled time – a class trip that won’t soon be forgotten.

I walked off to the car with my sweet fifth grader, his last trip in elementary school, over and done.

“So, did you have a good trip?”

“Yup.” Oh, do go on.

“What was your favorite part?”

“Totally the bus ride.”  Of course.

“Mine too.” Never never never will I do that again.

I wonder if they’ll even remember that we went to the Intrepid and saw Matilda on Broadway.

 

Another run-in with the cops

The other day, I planned to meet a friend for what would have been our first run together. She c0-owns/teaches at the grueling Bar Method and is in tip-top shape. Just thinking about keeping up with her was causing me to sweat. So when she bailed, I was disappointed but also a bit relieved. Me vs. Me is stress enough.

Still, my friend didn’t abandon me completely. She introduced me to Runkeeper, a new app that maps your route and keeps track of your speed, distance and time. Excited, I put on my baseball cap, grabbed my cell and cinnamon mint and headed out, full of expectation and wondering if it would work.

Sure enough, at five minutes in, Runkeeper spoke. “.52 miles. 9 minutes, 32 seconds per mile.” It worked! But apparently, I wasn’t. Although, I knew it was completely unrealistic, I was secretly hoping I’d be clocking 8 minute miles or at least 8 ½. What you don’t know, you can pretend. Right?

At ten minutes, Runkeeper piped up again. “1.17 miles. 9 minutes 37 seconds per mile.” Oh no. I’ve slowed down. I needed to up my pace before the 15 minute marker. I began to feel anxiety, I mean motivation, to preform. I sped up a bit, and waited with baited, halting breath for Runkeeper to confirm it.

Instead, the phone rang. I checked the screen. Unless it’s one of the kids’ schools, I don’t pick up. It’s my alarm company. I’m picking up. “Hello?” I pant, still running. No way I’m ruining my pace.

“This is your alarm company. Your alarm is… The police …”

“What? Huh?” I really can’t hear with the street traffic and my heavy breathing. Plus my sweat is all over my phone now, making it slippery on my ear. I have to stop. Damn.

The alarm company repeats the information.  Apparently, my alarm is going off, and the police are on their way. Crap. I’m a solid 15 minutes from my house. I know, because Runkeeper just told me so with a pace of a little over 10 miles an hour, thanks to my abrupt halt. Hmph. Uh, not that I care anymore. I mean, my house might be  overrun with burglars. Why would I care about that?

About two minutes go by, before the phone rings again. Of course, it’s my husband. The alarm service has called him as well, and now it’s his job to repeat the information and just add some stress.

“The cops are there!” He exclaims.

“I know!”  I huff and puff in annoyance, as well as exertion.

“Hurry up!” he insists. “Uh, pant pant, maybe if I wasn’t on the phone I could move faster.”

Partly true. I don’t really think I can move faster. Plus, going back is uphill. Yeah, my impressive pace in the beginning was basically the downhill part of the run.

As I ran, I thought about the police at my house, waiting. I don’t know what it is with me and cops lately. First I had that incident with the bank fraud and was totally intimidated when I had to file a report. Then a few weeks ago, a cop showed up at my door, after my car was minding its own business parked  in front of my house and got smashed. Now I was running to meet them.

My phone rang again. The husband.

“Are you there yet?”

“If I wasn’t about to die here, I’d kick your ass.”

“Just don’t let them leave till they’ve checked every inch of the place.”

I hung up. Now I’m freaked out as well.

Dripping sweat, slightly hyperventilating, I reached home and found the cops sitting outside my door. I followed them inside for a walk-thru, which turned up nothing.

I showed one of them the crawl space in the basement. He didn’t have his flashlight and shrugged, “No one is in there.”

I said, “If this was a TV movie, there would be.”

He laughed.

I said, “That’s exactly what you would do in the movie. Then I die.”

He laughed again.

Damn.

After they leave, and after I again walked thru my house with a baseball bat checking every crevice like the idiot girl who absolutely gets dead, the next thing I did was check Runkeeper. Turns out, I got back to my house in 13 minutes. Not bad, considering it was uphill.

Now I’m totally looking forward to my next run-in with the cops. For speeding.

This app rocks

I love this app!

I just need a moment

“Hello, I’m home.” Howard booms, walking in after a long day’s work.

“Hi!” I yell from the kitchen, preparing dinner.

“Hello!” he yells again, louder this time, since the only response he heard was mine, and the ones he really wanted to hear had their brains attached to the computer and could not be expected to form words until we pulled the plug, or threatened to.

“Hello!” he says, in their faces and they look up at him innocently, and sweetly say, ‘Hi, Daddy” before returning to their screens.

In the kitchen, he is a storm of frustration, and he’s been home all of five minutes.

“They can’t even look up to say hi.” He complains.

“I’m saying hi,” I say and put a plate of dinner before him.

“Do you guys want to go to the park?” He yells to the other room.

A weak ‘yes’ from my oldest can be heard in reply. He has learned to say yes, although his nature usually compels him to say no. My middle son already has his glove on and stands by the door shouting at my husband to hurry.

My husband rolls his eyes in annoyance, mainly because my oldest is not as excited as he’d like him to be. Still, he’s got their attention, and shovels the food in fast so he has time to play.

“Did you have a good day?” I ask. Oh my God, I sound like a housewife. A desperate one.

He is busy eating fast, skimming the paper. “Yeah. Uh huh.” He answers absently.

It makes me want to take the old striped dishtowel I’m using to dry the pot I just cleaned from dinner and throw it at his face. Instead, I resume washing the dishes. I’ll show him… with the cleanest dishes.

With barely a word between us, he finishes his food and hurries from the table to catch whatever daylight is left to give the boys batting practice and maybe do some fielding drills. With a quick peck, a grab for water bottles and a lot of rustling and schlepping of equipment bags out the door, they are gone. The only thing left are the dishes on the table.

And my five year-old.

“Mommy!” he runs in, eyes excited and happy, while mine are watery and down cast. “Can we do drawing? Will you draw me Pokemon?”

“Okay.” I say, trying not to look at him, knowing I’m extra sensitive today for some reason, probably hormonal, and not wanting to cry in front of him.

“I love you!” He squeals and wraps his chunky arms around my waist. “I need to hug you!” He exclaims and it is the most warm, genuine gesture of affection that makes me so grateful and for some reason, even more sad.

“Go play in the other room and I’ll draw with you when I’m done.” I say, and his return smile is love.

He turns to run from the room, but stops abruptly and runs back to hug me once more before jetting off.

“Go on.” I say to the empty room, “Mommy just needs a moment.”