I had the experience of attending my first "Preschool Party" this weekend. One parent invited the entire class and then rented the preschool for her daughter's birthday party. Toddlers decked in princess gowns and cowboy gear running willy nilly around an abandoned classroom, parents standing on guard. When do I get to drop my kid off at these things instead of standing here making small talk with a bunch of people I don't know? And where's my tiara? I haven't felt this uncomfortable since my first Jr. High School dance. While standing at the playground, I adopted my opening line of conversation, "How old is your son/daughter? Where will you enroll him/her in kindergarten next year?" Most of the kids at Shelby's preschool are 4 or 5. Since she is only 3, she tends to pick up lines from the older kids rather quickly, and applies them to me liberally. Such as, "I hate you, Stinky Girl!" and "Whateva". I take a moment to try and match these phrases to their respective sources. The mom beside me shares with me her rather upbeat life story, her mother was a great babysitter for her kids, until she died last January. Her husband was diagnosed with Leukemia last summer. Hmm, picked a winning conversation there. In an attempt to change the subject, I tried my line, "How old is your daughter? Where will you enroll...blah blah?" She said,"You know, I have spent every day of my life with my kids for the past ten years. It's going to...." At this point I tuned her out except for the words "EVERY DAY" and "MY KIDS" and "TEN YEARS" repeating in my head. I felt parched. Where did they put the cocktails? Oh my god, I didn't realize my commitment level. Call my lawyer. I don't think I'm up for this sort of thing. Ten years, every day? No break? You gotta be kidding me.
I loaded both kids up to take Shelby to preschool this morning and actually remembered to grab the cup of coffee of the roof of my car BEFORE backing down the driveway. Momma's gonna have a good day! I pulled into the preschool parking lot proud to be dressed in my workout clothes. Hey, everyone, take note, I'm making time for myself! Out of the corner of my eye, there was a white flash of shockingly processed hair, barbie pink lip gloss and buns of steel packed into baby blue stretch pants. Life sized Barbie was dropping her toddler off at preschool today. Where did SHE come from? Somebody call the Miss Alabama Tryouts and let them know they've misplaced a contestant. There's a new mom at preschool. She's younger. She's hotter. And she's all done up to do the drop off. DAMN! Something tells me I'm not Miss Kansas anymore, Toto.
Want to see your kid glow? Really beam? Turn off the TV, set down the newspaper and play a board game with her. I watched my whining 3 year old transform into a peppy little chatterbox flitting- no. More like exploding, off the walls the moment I agreed to play her game. We started "game night" a few months ago when she got Memory for her third birthday. We somehow acquired a second game, Sequence, that I think is equally entertaining. Then Christmas rolled around and it must have been boardgame mating season because we now own about 6.
Shelby has been on an, "I can do it" kick lately. This time, she directed me out of the bathroom so she could finish her business alone. A few minutes had passed before I heard, "Mommy! Mooommmmmmyyyy!" That would be my cue. I stepped into the bathroom and noticed something on her hand, then saw it on her elbow. When I got a little closer I spotted it smeared on her potty seat, up her back and realized it was pretty much everywhere. At this moment, there was a knock at the door. NOW??? I instructed Shelby to STAY PUT and started the shower-because this kid and her potty seat needed one heck of a hose down-and opened the front door. The sandy haired woman started with "Hi, I live around the corner, and I understand you teach piano lessons?" The look on my face must have been priceless because before I could answer, she asked, "Uh, is this a bad time?"
If I ruled the world:
1. Pram Parking would be universal. Every car with a baby & stroller could park nearest the entrance. The Australians figured this out, what's wrong with the rest of the world?
2. Daddy's would have three day weekends, every weekend.
3. Personal Drivers. The day we give birth a personal driver takes the helm of our minivan. Because let's face it, how many times have you put your knee on the wheel while pumping breast milk with one hand and reaching for a dropped sippy cup with the other? Those "Baby On Board" signs should read, "Mommy Driving: BEWARE".
4. School holidays would never coincide with other closures. Why is it that the library, the zoo and gymnastics are closed the same week that the preschool closes? Are they trying to send me to the nuthouse?
5. Stay-At-Home Mom Title would be forever changed to "Ruler of Your World" so that everyone was clear with my job description. Occupation? "Ruler of Your World" But why do I have to go to bed, mommy? "Because I'm the Ruler of Your World."
6. All children would have an emergency OFF switch for those moments when they just need to stop....screaming, crying, being awake, etc.
5. Drive Through Everythings. I've said it before, I'll say it again. Parents with children in their car should not be forced to get out at every friggin stop. It is torture. Drive through groceries, drive through hair cuts, drive through shoe stores....
Any additions? Please address to "Ruler of Your World"
John and I have been married 6 years. The first year we adjusted to living together, married life, and our puppy. And John lost his wedding ring. We were well into our evening at the casinos in Tahoe when, as he claims, it "just fell off". The second year of marriage we settled into our careers, explored new activities (softball for John, triathlons for me), and bought a house. And John broke his wedding ring. The replacement ring was nowhere as nice as the original platinum band, it was sterling silver (why trust him twice with something expensive???). He caught a line drive on the pitcher's mound and the ring cracked in two. The third year we replaced the ring with a Titanium band, supposedly indestructible, and still cheaper than platinum. We coasted through three more years of having children, another house, and many world travels. Then, John lost his wedding ring. In Tahoe. Again. And yes, we had been to the casinos. Now, just 3 weeks later, I lost my wedding band in San Francisco. I realized it while chasing my nephew through the lobby of our hotel. Oh shit. Attempting to remain calm, I passed off my kid duty and speed walked to my room. A frantic search of the floor found it hidden under a backpack in the corner. The moral of the story? I have removed my rings until I can find time to get them resized. John, on the other hand, has decided to get a tattoo on his ring finger. I think we should just engrave a new ring with the following: If found, please call (XXX), reward, my wife is going to kill me.
"What's that?" I asked John as we passed through my daughters' bathroom. The faint banging of something in the attic could be heard with each gust of wind. It's been very stormy in California the past week and we've discovered a few surprises in our little old house. For example, the threshold under our front door quit its job about a decade ago and now ushers in water, wind and dirt whenever possible. Now this. "I think it's a draft," John replies. "Can we put on our jackets and go see it?" asks Shelby. "You want to go see the draft?" I ask. She nods her head, "Uh, huh. Can we go up and see the giraffe in the attic?"
Last year I made myself a promise on the drive home from our annual trip to San Francisco. It was 8 am on a Sunday morning in 2007. I was pregnant and piloting our family home, having already had breakfast, packed up and checked out of our hotel. I was irritable, bloated and couldn't quite put my finger on what else was bugging me until I realized my problem. I wasn't hungover. Nope, my clear head and steady hands assured me I did not taste through the hundreds of Zinfandels at the all day wine tasting event, I had skipped out on cocktail hour, and had returned to my hotel room after dinner in time for story hour and bedtime with Shelby. Right then and there I told myself that this time next year I'd be laying in my hotel room, still clothed in my dinner attire, entertaining the notion of breakfast while forcing down a few Advil for my pounding headache. I vowed to be hungover. Well, I'm a woman of my word. And this weekend I lived up to my promise to uphold the 10 year tradition John and I share of heading up to Fort Mason on the SF bay and tasting through hundreds of zins, indulging in cocktail hour before heading out to a decadent meal followed by bar hopping, crowded taxi cabs and lots of wild dancing. Each year varies ever so slightly, of course, and this year was no exception. The usual day of wine tasting, followed by obligatory cocktail hour, then an evening drive through Union Square on the top of a double-decker bus in true Austen Powers style, above-mentioned meal, a seedy bar, an even more questionable bar, dancing, pizza. Cut to Scene 2, The Morning After. And here I am, hunched over in the passenger seat, wishing away my headache, gripping a Gatorade and wondering how long my children will remain silent on the drive home. Here's to tradition!