Thursday, December 6, 2007

A Word on Tattoos

Here's the thing about tattoos.... they're one of those dividers in life. Those who have tattoos and those who don't.

Kind of like women with kids, and women without kids.

When you meet someone else who has what you have, you talk about the similarities, the love, the pain. (I'm talking about kids here, try to keep up)

Since I am a lover of tattoos, I enjoy hearing the stories behind other people's pieces. One woman told me her sister got a tattoo in the shape of the state of Louisiana because she enjoyed her vacation there so much. Now that's interesting.

Of course I've got my share of uninteresting tattoos (kanji, anyone?) and if I tried to sit and talk through the chronological history of my tattoos, it would take too long and I'd get bored. Or you would. What I find interesting is that my kids are completely and utterly indifferent to them. My older son was only a few months old when I got my first tattoo and my body of work has grown right along with him. By the time baby #2 came along, I had plenty. In fact, the anestesiologist was especially nice to me because she saw the Sanskrit on my arm and talked to me about visualization and a blooming lotus flower to help control my pain. Incidentally, after she gave me an epidural, it worked great. You see, tattoos can connect you to people in ways you don't expect.

Recently I went to the tattoo shop -to see the same doer of tattoo that's been working on me for years- with two women that I NEVER in my life expected to bring there. Highly respectable, society type women. Goes to show you, that even people who don't want to be judged by their tattoos will still make judgements about others based on tattoos.

Anyway, one of them got her husband's name on her butt. The other got a silhouette of a woman on a motorcycle. It was a very interesting day. You learn a lot about people inside a tattoo shop. In some ways, more than you'll learn about them outside of one.

Here's a fun book about tattoos and kids. That's another obsession of mine. Books. All kinds of books. But that's a story for another day.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Writing Lines

Remember when you’d misbehave in school, and your teacher would make you write something moronic like, “I will not stab the lunchroom lady”? Well, if you went to my grammar school that was what the “lines” punishment assignments were like.
My son came home with a directive to write lines about behaving in Spanish class. It was a long one, not something simple like I will not talk. The sentence took up 3 written lines and he was supposed to repeat it 100 times.
When he first told me on the phone, I got very quiet because I was angry. Not at him, but at the stupidity of the assignment. I don’t call him Golden Boy for nothing. He’s truly a great kid. Well behaved, smart, empathetic, etc. My first reaction was to tell him NOT to do the stupid lines. Then I reconsidered, only because I didn’t want him to get the idea that Mom will just write a letter to get him out of it when he doesn’t like something.
How do you strike that balance?? To lead by example and show your kid that A) You are part of a class and when the class gets punished, you have to suck it up and B) Stand up for what you believe in, and I believe in not paying hundreds of dollars each month to send my kid to private school to have him write lines.
Little man got so frustrated over the assignment and the unfairness that he started to cry, and once he started, he couldn’t stop. I sat down with him and explained that this is the oldest story in the world. That kids have been talking in class since the dawn of time, and teachers have been making them write lines just as long. Told him that if he unearthed an ancient school room, he’d see Sumerian tablets reading “I will not throw spitballs”. Also told him that his homeroom teacher was probably very embarrassed by their behavior, because during the day, she’s like a mom to those 15 kids in his class. In the end, we only had him write the sentence 25 times, and I sent a strongly worded letter to the teacher telling her to assign extra work if the class misbehaves in the future. If he’s going to be up past bedtime working on a punishment assignment, then he’d better learn something while he’s at it. I felt bad about doing it, because I actually really like his teacher. Is this the end of the issue?
The teacher called me this morning at work. She apologized for the way everything was handled yesterday, and wanted to explain the background as well. The kids have been acting out in Spanish class (many of them speak Spanish already, and feel the class is like a free period) and yesterday la maestra got so frustrated with the class that she was in tears. She had a meeting with the homeroom teacher and the principal. It was the principal who dictated the assignment. The homeroom teacher apologized for being put on the spot and not working out an alternative punishment. She also said that she felt really bad for Golden Boy because he’s such a good kid, and he probably was talking but not causing trouble. That’s what gets me, he even owned up to talking and still said that the punishment was unfair. So we talked for a bit, mostly her apologizing and saying it won’t happen again, that the kids will be given a constructive assignment should they misbehave. She also thinks the Spanish teacher is giving them too much free time and that’s causing them to climb the walls. My opinion is that the kids need to respect every teacher, not just their favorite ones, and I told her as much. In the end, she gave me her cell phone number and asked me to call if there was ever any concern over the curriculum, assignments or anything having to do with my Golden Boy.
When I was in grammar school, the president himself could have written a letter about me not doing an assignment, especially a punishment one, and my teacher would have handed it back and told me to finish my damn work. Those teachers weren’t afraid of the parents, or the opinions of parents, or anything. I’m sure some of them have gone on to teach Navy Seals lessons about being tough. And they had to be. They dealt with gangs, kids who didn’t care, parents who didn’t care, teen pregnancy, kids who couldn’t afford lunch or warm clothes, kids from broken homes who cried all day. It was so much harder than just trying to teach us the proper way to use “caveat” in a sentence.
Yep, that’s why I send my kid to private school.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Sentimental Fool

Yesterday I read a story about a woman who has lovingly kept some of her grandparent's Christmas ornaments for years, and had a mishap which ended with her tree falling over and three of the ornaments being shattered. Because I can understand her pain, I started to reply, and my reply got so long I realized it needed to come here to have it's own space.

I have very few things that belonged to my father, and my favorite is a felt bowler hat that he loved. I don't know why, as he kinda looked like a Puerto Rican Charlie Chaplin in it. Anyway, one day my youngest son begged to play with it. The tyke is named after my dad, although he came along many years after my dad died. I smiled and handed it to him and my hubby almost had a heart attack. He thought I'd gone crazy. You see, he knows how sentimental I can be about what other people think is just stuff. I calmly told him the story of visiting my grandparents in NY when I was very small. My grandfather had a pool table in the basement, and legend has it that he loved that thing more than anything else. Well, I wanted to play pool. Only problem was that I couldn't exactly reach the table. My grandfather told my father, "So let her play," and I proceeded to hold the cue up over my head and stab at the balls over the edge of the table. I'm told the felt was quite torn up when I was done, but I was happy and that made him happy. All these years later I swear I could hear my father say, "Let him wear the hat. It's just a hat!"

And so that's what I did. Makes me sad, though, that it's the closest my son will ever come to my dad.

Haircuts, Forts and CNN

Great Clips restored my faith in bargain basement haircuts (at least for kids) by correcting Golden Boy's hair yesterday at no charge. He was quite skeptical about letting them at his hair again, and I don't blame him. When the woman tried to ask him if he was unhappy with his haircut, he just looked at me. Way to put the kid on the spot, lady! I raised him to be polite and his interpretation of polite is to NOT tell a stranger that she did a shit job cutting his hair. Maybe tonight he'll sit still long enough for me to get a picture since he's just so handsome with his new 'do.

When we got home, GB realized he'd forgotten his math book, so he couldn't do his homework. Belly removed the bamboo table runner and used that and the dog's bed to make a fort in the middle of the living room. The cat flung another glass ornament off the tree. The dog used the game room as her personal latrine. Clean laundry was in a basket on the dining room table, so I started sorting it only to find my favorite socks now have large holes in them. WTF? Just thinking about making dinner caused my head to hurt, since Belly wanted bacon and eggs and GB wanted a bacon burger, making Belly cry. Why was Belly so wounded by his brother's craving for a bacon burger? The world may never know. So we had pizza and watched How The Grinch Stole Christmas. And just to appease The Belly, we put imitation bacon bits on his pizza. Sounds appetizing, no? Eventually I went to bed and left my husband to handle that other stuff. Well, except the dog mess.

CNN has an article about little boys and play kitchens here. I rest my case.

DO NOT, under any circumstances, attempt to eat Campbell's Won Ton Soup.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Doorknobs and Stirrups, Oh My!

Mistaken Identity
Friday my husband took our boys to Great Clips to get their hair cut before our pictures with Santa.
My little one came back fine. Golden Boy wanted to look like Zac Efron, but instead now looks like Dorothy Hamill. Poor kid. So I asked DH how this happened, and he says, "YOU said to just get it trimmed." Yes, but I did not say to use a bowl as the guide! So I had to call and speak to a manager, and we have an appointment to go in tonight and have his hair fixed. After that I'm going to suck it up and take them to a trendy joint lest this mess happen again.
<---- Zac Efron

<----- Dorothy Hamill

Saturday we had breakfast with Santa. Belly loved it and loved the jolly fat guy. Belly told Santa he wants his own skateboard. That makes Momma cringe. Of course I didn't get a single picture of both kids looking at the camera.

What goes around...
Saturday DH got sick, no doubt having contracted the plague from me. Did I complain about laundry and such? Noooo. But I did leave to go to a party, and stuck him with the little ones. Muahahaha! It looked like Armageddon outside but nothing was going to stop my brave friend and I from getting to the party. Not the ice covering the streets, not the chunks of snow blowing off the tops of trucks on the expressway, and not the green lightning. Yep, green. At the party our light pleasant conversation took a turn for the worse when it degraded into jokes about doorknobs up asses and something about sex with stirrups and morgue tables. "You know, for easy clean up" said one deranged party goer. Yes, a good time was had by all!

Species Reassignment
Our poor, mistreated betta fish is now having an identity crisis. First I thought he was depressed because we keep trying to kill him, because he just laid at the bottom of the tank and didn't move. But now he's convinced he's a Portuguese Man O' War. He floats with his top fin just breaking the surface of the water, with his beautiful tail and fins kind of hanging below him. He only moves around to eat, and to swim out of the way when the cat drinks out of his bowl. (Yum! Fishy flavored water!)

Corn Fed Kids
Saturday Golden Boy's basketball team suffered their first defeat, and it was big. They lost by 30 points to a team of kids that were all bigger than me. Do they have bovine growth hormones in the hot lunch at that school?!

One last thing, did you know that Campbell's now makes Won Ton Soup??