Thursday, October 7, 2010

Waxing Poetic

I am the worst mother ever. Well, maybe not the worst, but I'm sure if you ask my son, Connor, he would say his mom is no gem. Perhaps I should explain. Before I do, let me just say that I had the best of intentions, and was only thinking of my son. Okay, that might not be totally true...

Here's the story. It was late August. Kids were lined up at the Hair Cuttery for their back to school hair cuts. Now Connor is homeschooled, but that doesn't mean I want the child walking around like a hippie. Every summer he decides to grow his hair out, his goal is to look like Anikin Skywalker (before he dons the Vader helmet). I don't get it, but hey - it's only hair. Anyway, there I am, trying to keep Aidan under control (he's there to get the paint out of his hair - not a good look), and I happen to glance at the price list. For $5 they'll wax the middle of the eyebrow. I glanced at Connor. Then back to the sign. Back to Connor. He catches me looking at him, follows my gaze to the sign, reads it, and loudly proclaims "over my dead body!!". I gave him what I hope was a pleading, yet encouraging look. He gave me what I like to call "The Connor Death Glare". Hmmm. What to do...

At this point, I think a little backstory is needed. My boys are a hairy bunch. It's not their fault - It's mine. When I was about the age Connor is now, I was at a friends' house. She sat me down and laid it out for me, saying :"We need to do something about your eyebrows.". My response: "What's wrong with my eyebrows?" Her response: "There is only one, where there should be two." Ohhhh. So she plucked away at my poor brows until there were actually two, and then gave me a mirror. Holy crap -I didn't even look like me anymore! I then noticed I was never cold in the winter because my legs were so hairy it was like wearing a fur coat. So began the life of shaving and plucking (I'll save waxing for another day). I have become the gal who has to shave her legs every day and needs a haircut every 3 weeks. People find it hard to believe I am of Scottish and Irish decent, assuming Greek or Italian. This is what I've passed on to my children. Aidan will be the guy at the beach you think is wearing a sweater, but it's really his back hair, and Connor will be the guy with the unibrow.

Back to the Hair Cuttery. I got Aidan settled with the lady who does his hair, then wandered over to the chair Connor was in. I stood watching his wavy, dirty- blond hair fall to the ground - the transformation was amazing! After 4 months of not getting a hair cut, I was finally getting my Connor back! Swept up in the moment, I stood next to the stylist with my back to the mirror so Connor couldn't see me, and whispered "Do the eyebrow". She gave me a nod, and I wandered back to Aidan, who, because of the paint, was getting a really interesting hair cut. I told Aidan's stylist what had just transpired and together we chuckled. In the midst of our laughter, Connor was being led to the sing to rinse of the remainder of what had to be 10lbs of hair. All of a sudden, I heard "Oh no you're not!!!". Funny, that sounded like Connor. I leaned around Aidan's mirror, and met the eyes of Connor's stylist. She looked at me questionly, and I, feeling a bit like Ceasar deciding the fate of a slave in a gladiator competion, gave her the thumbs up. Aidan's stylist, still finding the whole thing amusing, asked "do you think he'll scream?". Oh no. What have I done? What kind of monster am I? I leaned around the mirror to tell the lady maybe we shouldn't do this, but before the words left my mouth, I heard a riiipppp. Then, "Owwwwww!!!". I stuck my head back behind the mirror, only to hear the ripping sound again. I suddenly found my shoes very interesting, as Connor was being led back to his chair. I glanced up to look at him, and by God he looked wonderful (well, except for the screaming red mark between his eyes). I felt a big, silly grin climb onto my face. That is, until I looked into his eyes. His bright blue eyes were filled with tears he refused to let fall in public. I felt lika an ass. I paid for the boys' haircuts, Connor still refusing to look at me, and drove them across the street to Gamestop, where I told Connor to pick out whatever game he wanted. Only when his game was bought and paid for, did Connor talk to me.

So, you see, I'm the worst mother in the world. Why couldn't I just let Connor be Connor? He loved that darn unibrow, thought it made him unique. Whereas I, his mother, only saw it as a catapillar above his eyes, that needed to be done away with. It's been 6 weeks now, the unibrow is back in full effect. Although I enjoyed looking at my son with two eyebrows, I won't do that to him again (I'll let his first girlfriend be the bad guy). I'm proud of Connor. I don't know of to many kids today who like themselves just the way they are. Lesson learned.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Oh the Humanity!!

So, earlier this week I received a text from my sister-in-law asking if we wanted to go with her, my brother, and the kids to see a demolition derby. I can't say I've ever been to one, and it sounded like something my boys might enjoy. We met at my brother's house at 5, for some pre-demolition grilling (somebody's brat was licked by one of my bro's dogs and I suspect he knows who got that one - probably me), then off to the races we went. After driving through what seems like miles of farm land, a huge stadium appeared on our right. I was awestruck - those demolition people must be raking it in - who knew? Turns out that wasn't the track we were heading to, although I am still shocked that a race that comes to the Chicagoland area once or twice a year makes enough money to warrant a stadium that size. Up ahead on our left was the stadium that houses the drag racers and right past that was where we were headed. The parking lot was crazy!! Although our track was the smallest of the three, it was still respectable in size. Holy crap - who knew this stuff existed out here in the sticks! We parked and liberally applied the bug spray, and off we went. The parking lot was full of tailgaters and flowing cans of Bud. Camo was the clothing of choice, that and t-shirts with the sleeves ripped off, with pictures of race cars and their drivers. The hair - the hair was like a time capsule!! Mullets, buzz cuts done at home (I could tell because the backs of many necks were not leveled out, instead the buzz went all the way down past the collars), mohawks, bad dye jobs... It was a hairstylists worst nightmare, and I'm not even a hairstylist!

We entered the stadium, and I don't know what I expected, but it wasn't the big oval of mud in front of me. My brother told us to follow him to where they always sit, at the very top. Honestly! The very top seemed like miles away, and it felt that way too. I parked myself and made a vow that I wasn't going down those stairs again, until this derby was over. Once we were settled I sat back and had a good look around. I'm a people watcher, and this crowd did not disappoint. The family with the mohawks and neon green (sleeveless, of course) t-shirts caught my eye first. Then I gazed over to the group of goths, then amused myself by trying to read some tats, and then, the jewel of the night - I hope you're sitting down - the guy with the flannel shirt, unbottoned, and yes sleeveless!!! It was awesome! He was also sporting a camo hat with a fishing hook stuck on the brim. I can't remember when I've ever been so thrilled with my people watching adventures. My flannel wearing friend (it was 90 degrees out, therefore no sleeves) came over and talked to his buddy who was sitting right in front of us, who was also sporting a t-shirt that had been removed of it's sleeves, and a "get-r-done tattoo". What more can I say?

So, people watching wasn't the only thing we were there for - turns out there were some cars crashing into eachother on the mud track below us. I actually enjoyed myself, especially after figuring out there was some method to all the madness. The boys had a good time too. Aidan was so facinated by what he was seeing that at one point he held his hands in front of himself and mimed that he was playing a video game and the crashing cars were being controlled by him. Connor was also mesmorized, until the storms started to roll in. After a brief announcement to remind everyone they were in fact sitting on metal bleachers whilst a big ol thunderstorm was moving into the neighborhood, the derby concluded. A good time was had by all I think it's safe to say. We got to the car just as the rain started, and people seemed in no hurry to move out. Beers were still being drunk in the parking lot, future tats were probably being discussed, and t-shirts thrown to the crowd were probably being seperated from the sleeves. All in all, a good time was being had.

The cherry on the people watching sundae occured when were in the line of cars exiting the lot. The rain storm was working up a full head of steam and lightning was flashing everywhere around us. As our car inched forward we came up to a pick-up in the next lane over. In the back of said truck was a boy who was probably about 15, weighing in at probably 300lbs, wearing a shirt with the sleeves ripped off, sound asleep while the rain pummeled him. Facinating.

So thanks to Dan and Lynn for inviting us out to the track - we had a great time and the derby was pretty cool. Even more enjoyable was dipping a big toe into the sea of humanity we had never really witnessed except in the movies. A good time was had by all!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


So, yesterday and the day before were two days from hell. The temperature hovered around 90 degrees, for some reason I was doing five loads of laundry a day, and my kids were out of control. To say I was out of my mind would probably be an understatement. Fortunately, when my husband got home from work he took both boys to a Boyscout thing and they were gone for three wonderful hours. While they were gone, I really tried to give my self an attitude adjustment. I cut the grass to let off some steam, read for a while, then played an hour of bejeweled on facebook. Nothing worked. If I were a cartoon character there would be a big storm cloud floating above my head. Finally, I sat and stared off into space and asked myself the question millions of housewives probably ask themselves every day - What Would Oprah Do? I'm not really a fan of the mighty O, I only watch her when she has celebs on, and I think she has a pretty big Oprah complex. That being said, she always has little pearls of wisdom she likes to throw down from on high to us, the little people. I knew I didn't want to start a journal, I don't have a Gayle on stand-by, and I wasn't about to go get some head- clearing exercise. I also don't have piles of money to roll around in, or 15 or so, well behaved cocker-spaniels to give me comfort (I do have two dogs, but honestly -they smell). Then I remembered something from a show years ago, probably when I was stuck on bed-rest with one of my boys - make a list every day of things you are grateful for. I can do that - I love lists!!

I decided to narrow it down to the people I'm grateful for, those friends who, maybe I don't see every day, but the thought of them always brings a smile to my face. There's my friends with whom I reconnected with on facebook, from highschool - Eileen, Carre, and Nancy. My BFF Leslie, who I met freshmen year in Mr. Vandenburg's speech class. Les and I had four great years of friendship, then after senior year we went on a vacation to Florida with another girl. We got off the plane, went home, and didn't talk for about five years. We reconnected, and resumed our friendship to the point I stood up in her wedding and she's my Aidan's godmother.

Another friend, or group of friend's is the ladies of "pie night". The four of us get together on Wednesdays for free pie and advice or sympathy, whichever is needed. One of the pie night ladies is also part of another, smaller group - the "super mom's". Normally I'd be intimidated by the super moms, but these two ladies won't have it. They have four and five kids, work, volunteer, one of them homeschools, the other sings in church. Good grief - who could compete with that?? Thankfully, I don't have to.

Added to the list would have to be my sister. I don't really remember her being born, it just seems like one day she wasn't there, the next day she was. I've always admired my sister -she's a natural athlete (she swam before she walked), she's got the best sense of humor -always has a witty comeback, she's one of the few people who make me laugh til I cry, and she's always is up for picking on our brother -which is still fun all these years later.

Rounding out my list is my mom. Mom and I had a rough time of it, starting in my tweens and ending when I found out I was pregnant with Connor. We made glaring at eachother an art form. She with her "I've really had it with your crap glare" and me with my "sullen teenager, whatever glare". Things were so bad for a while, the parents and I made a road trip to look at a boarding school in Indiana. When I was 18 I was invited to leave, and leave I did, until I got engaged. I came home for five months before the wedding to an akward situation, and stayed in my marriage bubble for the next five years. When I found out I was pregnant with Connor, I called to tell her and get a recommendation for a doctor. Mom could have said "I hope your kid turns out to be just like you" and hung up. She didn't though. She was there every step of the way. During my pregnancy something crazy happened - we became friends. Huh. Who would have thought? Now my mom is the voice of reason when things get rough. I call her just to hear a friendly voice when my kids are out of control. I'm constantly calling her for much needed advice, or to be talked off the roof when I'm feeling like I'm loosing it. In short, my mom became my best friend. If I could go back and tell the rotten teenager I was that mom and I were going to be friends, I probably wouldn't believe it (frankly, neither would my mom).

So, there you have it, my feel good list. Just thinking about this list today got me motivated to feel good. I cleaned the sandbox (with a sifter - I know- I have issues), gave both dogs a bath, cleaned my house, got a full day of homeschooling done and played some great games in the now clean sandbox with Aidan. Life is good. So, a big thank you to all my friends, I'm glad you're all in my life. Although I'm not ready to go out and but a WWOD? bracelet, but I will admit I feel great after taking her advice. The almighty Oprah strikes again!

Thursday, May 20, 2010


When I was a kid my dad's favorite dadism was " it's non-negotiable". We all hated it, but he'd pull that little gem out at least once a week. Want to go outside? Are you're chores done? No? Non-Negotiable. Want to stay out past your curfew? Non-negotiable. Don't feel like doing dishes tonight? Non-negotiable. And so it went. Non-negotiable was the law in our house, and once we figured out dad meant what he said, there were no arguments. Sometimes, if you really wanted something that you knew would fall under the non-negotiable rule, you'd try the fast-talk move. Everything you said would be one run-on sentence, just so you could get it out before the hammer fell. The warning signs? Well, if we were being very unrealistic, it would start with a faint pulse at dad's temple. As we'd really get rolling, dad's face would get an unhealthy shade of red, followed by the "dad vein" popping out on his forehead. By then, we're already in to deep - we couldn't just stop. Thats when dad would let out a mighty roar and say "I said NO! It's NON-NEGOTIABLE - Stop talking!!!" Afterwards, we'd slink off, not even daring to mumble under our breath.

I was forced to remember non-negotiable after a very harrowing week with my boys. As a kid, I swore I'd never utter those dreaded words to my children, yet utter them I did. I don't think it's unreasonable to expect certain things of my children. I know they have expectations of me, and heaven forbid I don't live up to them. Here's an example or two. When I say don't jump on the couch, I really would like it if the couch did not get jumped on. Do I ask too much? Apparently I do, because every day, at least 5 times a day I am telling my 4-year old not to jump on the couch. Now I have a couch with flattened cushions and broken springs. So, I finally did it - I've declared not jumping on the couch to be non-negotiable. Does my 4-year old know what that means? Probably not, but if my red face and twitching left eye is any indication, perhaps he will figure it out. Example #2. The house rule is no video games during the week. I do not think that is torture, or even punishment. But at least once every other day, Connor is sitting infront of the X-Box, or his PSP. When confronted, Connor claims he thought I was kidding about that rule. This week the excuse was, it's his birthday week. Umm...No. Finally, I declared the no video game during the week rule, you guessed it - non-negotiable! Take that!!

So, it would seem I am following in my parents footsteps. This is not the first time I've caught myself doing/saying something I swore I'd never do/say to my kids. Pardon me while I swallow that big lump in my throat, also known as my pride, while I admit that maybe my parents did know a thing or two. And maybe, just maybe, they weren't trying to ruin my life. Good grief - please don't tell them I said that.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The T-Rex is Mine...

When I was nearing the end of my pregnancy with Connor, I was hanging out at my parents house, munching on some chocolate chip cookies. I had one in my hand and one resting on my huge belly. All of a sudden, the cookie resting on my stomach started to move. My mom and I sat, awestruck as the cookie went from one side of my pregnancy-bloated belly, to the other. We called my husband into the room to watch the show. He grinned from ear-to-ear - it looked like we had an athlete on our hands!

Cut to four years later. It's Connor's first soccer pratice. Another mom walked up to me and gave me the standard getting to know you greeting: "So, which one is yours?". I scanned the field until my eyes rested on Connor. He was on the field, totally uninterested in what was going on around him, bent at a sixty degree angle, arms bent, close to his body, hands in the shape of claws, rolling his neck, and - roaring. With a sigh I told her - the T-Rex was mine.

She gave a little laugh then wandered away. And so began Connor's athletic activities. The T-Rex lingered for the entire season. The next season brought on sitting down in the middle of the game, every game. The season after that was the year of spontainious hugging - other players, some he didn't even know. And so on. We tried other sports: karate- he didn't like all the yelling, swimming- didn't like getting his face wet, baseball- didn't want to wear a cup (an errant pitch to the groin took care of that sport), tennis- didn't want to move his feet - he actually seemed amazedwhen the ball didn't come directly to him. Eventually, against my judgement we tried football. That didn't work either - the pratices were to hard, not enough playing time, to much equipment, the coaches didn't like him -blah, blah, blah. Basketball came along and much to our amazement - he loved it!! Yay! We found Connor a sport! Then we saw him play. My son runs like he just got off a horse, was afraid of the ball and kept getting called for lane violations. Who cares - Connor found a sport! Now during all this, every fall and spring we put him on the soccer team. For six years we hauled ourselves around to soccer games and not once did Connor manage to touch the ball - until this year. All of a sudden he's passing, and he came thisclose to getting a goal last week! Whats going on - is he a late bloomer? Or did the combination of our persistance and some great coaches finally take effect? Who knows? Frankly, who cares!

Now my son Aidan is playing his first year of soccer. We felt sure he was going to be our athlete - the child never runs out of energy. When he was two he ran a mile! He has well-developed calf and arm muscles like I've never seen on a kid. He's also crazy competitive. Needless to say, I was looking forward to watching the kid play sports. So, when I took him to pratice I was ready for THE question. Sure enough, a mom came over and asked which one was mine. I scanned the field with what I hoped was well concealed pride. The I saw him - standing in the goal, one leg as high as his shoulders - stuck in the netting. With a sigh I told her - mine was the one literally, in the goal. Here we go again...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Louie's Mom

When I was about six, my parents and I moved to the "new" side of Tinley Park. Across the street from us was acres and acres of farm land, owned by one family -the Camps. With-in a year or two, our sub-division was fully developed, I had two new siblings and there were kids galore to play with in all ages and sizes. Our front yard, or anybody's yard on the block, became the place to hang out. Kids were always knocking on eachothers doors, leaving sweaty forehead marks on the storm door while trying to peer inside to see if someone could come out to play. The sidewalks were an obsticle course of big-wheels, bikes and sports equipment, and parents encouraged us to stay outside and play, even in the front yard. There were things you could count on, like a ball game breaking out in the middle of the street at any given time, highly competitive foot races, and oh yeah - Louie's mom.

Louie was the holy terror on the block, for us as well as his parents. At least three times a day you could count on Louie's mom to walk the sidewalk, screaming LOUIE!! at the top of her lungs. If we had any trees in our new subdivision, she would have scared the birds right out of 'em. Louie's mom always looked tired, never saw her in anything other than sweat pants, and I'm not sure she ever took her hair out of it's ponytail or her feet out of her slippers. Sometimes, when she'd walk the streets screaming for Louie, her other son Anthony would follow, echoing her every shout. Occasionally, without even realizing it, she'd give her Louie cry and we'd say it back, then we'd look around to see if anybody noticed.

On the rare occasions we actually saw Louie, he was usually riding his bike away from his house and his screaming mom. Sometimes he'd ride up on the sidewalk, disturbing an intense game of running bases, or he'd park right in front of us while we were trying to watch the guy across the street cutting his lawn in a speedo. Either way, Louie was a brat. I'm not sure whatever happened to Louie, or his mom for that matter, I hadn't given them a thought since I moved out of my parents house almost 16 years ago. So why did I think of them today? Aidan was having a tantrum on the trampoline, beating up on his older brother, so I marched out to the backyard, still in my pj's and slippers, hair like a wild woman, not sure of my last shower - and screamed. AIDAN!!!! He ignored me. I did it again - AIDAN!!! Then, not bothering to walk across the back yard yelled for him to stop what he was doing or get in the house. Mission complete, I turned to walk back in, and caught a glimpse of myself in the door's reflection. The thought just popped into my head - "holy crap, I'm turning into Louie's mom!".

Monday, May 3, 2010

There's One in Every Family...

"They" say there's one in every family, that one person who marches to a beat of a different drummer. In our family, that person is my son Connor. Not because he insists on wearing his "grandpa hat" wherever he goes, or the clip-on sunglasses, or the fact that his clothes haven't matched since he outgrew geranimals, or even that on occasion he slippes into Yoda speak. No, it's much worse than that - my son is a Cubs fan. Ugh - where did we go wrong?? Was he dropped on his head as an infant? Brain washed by my sister-in-law? Abducted by aliens? Who knows, but it's troubling. Those of you in New York, California, Pennsylvania, and Texas know what I'm talking about. If your state has more than one team, you're born supporting a team for life, the team your parents, and their parents before them, have decided on before you even existed. Apparently nobody ever explained that to Connor.

Let me give you a little history. When I was a kid, my mom, grandma, and great aunt would go to Comisky Park to watch the Sox. Three generations of gals sitting in the warm sun, the air smelling of peanuts, cotton candy and spilled beer. My gram and aunt would sit in the bleachers, Sox hats perched trucker style on their heads, their faces hidden by 70's style sunglasses, score cards in hand, discussing players like Bucky Dent, Bill Melton, and Jerry Hairston. Harry Carey would be singing drunkenly during the 7th inning stretch (we'd also be listening to him on a transister radio, calling the game) I may not have know what was going on in those early years, but they laid the foundation for me to become a life-long White Sox fan. The love of the game , and my team stayed with me through-out the years. Trips with family or friends to the ball park was always a great time, and I got to see some of the best players in action: Carlton Fisk, Ozzie Guillen, Robin Ventura, Big Frank Thomas, Black-Jack McDowwell and Tim Raines. White Sox trivia became a litmus test for prospective boyfriends, and my husband passed them all. Five years after we were married, along came Connor. We were filled with visions of family outings to Sox games, all of us decked out head-to-toe in black and white, waiting in line to get autographs before the game for our son, which he would cherish later in life. I realize now that that is never going to happen, we have a Civil War in our house - the South Side vs. the North Side, mother vs. son, and it breaks my heart. Fortunatly for us, there's Aidan. Aidan had the good sense to be born on game one of the 2005 World Series, which the White Sox won. That fact alone, seals his fate. While I'm upset that my first born son isn't following family tradition, I am proud of him for claiming his independance and sticking to his guns, despite pressure to do otherwis. After all, there's always one in every family...