Friday, November 30, 2012

Black Friday Stupor

Yes, I know Black Friday was a week ago. An early Thanksgiving always makes everything seem earlier, and then I'm in denial about the whole holiday season. Well I guess that usually happens anyway – the whole being-in-denial-because-the-holidays-are-approaching-too-fast-and-I'm-not-even-remotely-ready.  I can't blame it on the early Thanksgiving.

So, the real truth:  I just did not get around to writing this post until a week after it happened.

Money has been especially tight this year due to it being the 2nd year my husband has been on disability after his stroke. And I, myself cut my hours back to part-time in the spring because I have a certain disability that kicks in when I'm working 40 hours a week, trying to keep a house that is somewhat peaceful and doesn't look like the set for a horror movie, and trying to raise 4 kids with minimal help from my recovering husband.  My disability is called “Crazy Mom.”

Money aside, the girls started working on me a few weeks before Thanksgiving: “Mom, are we going to go Black Friday shopping this year?” Apparently, they have fond memories of getting up at 4 AM, huddling on the heated seats in our minivan, and walking into the stores with our butts steaming. Each time they asked about Black Friday shopping this year, I hemmed and hawed. I tried to be non-committal. But no matter what I said – or didn't say – the girls just couldn't believe that I would skip a family tradition. We went last year. I guess that was when the tradition started. You've got to be careful what you do with your kids around the holiday season, you know. If you make one false move, the children are going to say it's tradition and force you to do it every year at Christmas-time for the rest of your natural lives.

So, with the words “we have negative money” and “I'm not buying anything for you today no matter how much whining, conniving and cajoling you do” ringing in their ears, we did indeed go Black Friday shopping. We didn't get up at a ludicrous hour. Instead it was maybe a ridiculous hour. It was 6 AM when my 10-year-old came in to wake me up. “Tell your sister to make the coffee and I will get up in a few,” I said. I'm so glad my children are fellow coffee-drinkers.

Apparently, I hadn't consumed enough coffee to assist me with the simple tasks of walking and talking, so mid-morning, we headed toward the Barnes and Noble in the Lansing Mall because they have a Starbucks cafe inside the store. As we approached the sprawling store front, there was a very large sign assuring us that, yes indeed, Starbucks coffee was sold at a cafe right inside their store walls. So I took that to mean right inside their store walls. As soon as we entered, I found myself in front of a row of registers. And the smell of coffee was overpowering – I needed to have some, and I needed it NOW. I looked at the friendly cashiers. Then past the friendly cashiers. There were displays of books stacked behind them. “Huh,” I wondered, “Where do they make the coffee?” So I carefully scanned the entire section to see if I could find a menu or coffee makers or cups or anything that indicated that this cafe right inside of Barnes and Noble actually served coffee. Nothing. So I did what any rational human being would do in the situation. I just stood there. And waited for coffee to appear. I would occasionally search the faces of the friendly cashiers and wonder why they weren't offering to help me in their chipper, friendly cashier way, “What can I get for you?” or “May I help you?” Still nothing. Then I saw some laminated sheets next to each cash register. That must be the menu, I thought. I picked it up, asked, “Is this the menu?” and then realized that I was reading about payment and return options. Finally the heavens opened and it was revealed by divine intervention that this was not the cafe. So, I tried to cover my error and quickly said, “I mean, where is the cafe?” The friendly cashiers pointed and I turned around to see a giant Starbucks cafe a few aisles over. I quickly walked away with my kids to get some coffee.

Sometimes I can't believe they let me go out in public.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


I dropped 3 of my kids off at school this morning, dug through the massive collection of wadded papers in my 3rd grader's cubby, and returned home, humming the Funeral March.

dum dum dum DUM da-dum da-dum da DUM!

The above-mentioned 3rd grader is my son, who stayed home from school today.  Oh no, he is not sick.  This is a first in our household:  I kept my son home today to do his homework.  Irresponsible parent, you say?  Enabling, you say?  Clearly you don't understand the parameters under which I kept him home.

Yesterday, his teacher sent home a reminder about missing work so that we could help him catch up before the trimester ends.  Tomorrow.  That may have been enough warning for your average 3rd grader.  Not so for my son.  He was missing approximately 48 pieces of homework (I am not even close to exaggerating). 

Let me explain a little bit here.  My son is quite intelligent.  Brilliant, even.  And his mother may be slightly biased.  Anyway, he is performing well above grade level in all subjects.  He writes very clever stories and builds incredible structures with his legos.  He regularly humors us with his creative stories and precocious vocabulary.

But he is a slob.  Disorganized.  Haphazard.  You get the picture.

I knew this was an issue.  I thought that I was doing well at regularly checking in with his teacher and making sure we were catching up on late assignments.   Obviously, my assumptions were erroneous.

So this morning, after dropping the other kids at school and humming the appropriate dirge for the situation, I made his favorite breakfast - egg, sausage and cheese burritos, accompanied by hot chocolate and orange juice. 

Are you thinking of words such as coddlingspoiling?

Once again, clearly you misunderstand me.  Think of Ben Linus treating Kate to an exquisite breakfast by the ocean shortly after capturing her and her friends.  Ben tells Kate that he wants her to have something nice to remember because the next 2 weeks are going to be very unpleasant.  Yeah, it was like that with my son.  I made it clear that today would not be fun. 

It will be a whip-cracking, homework-cranking day.  No TV, no computer, no legos, no toys at all until every last crumpled paper is finished.

Oh, no.  It will not be a fun day at all.

And once that is done, the hubs and I will have to come with some very strict criteria under which he operates from now on.  Because I assure you I will not be bailing him out in college.