Kids Ruin Everything

Kids ruin everything.

They ruin your mind. A wise woman advised me at my first baby shower to write down every cute thing they do because, “You think you will remember, but you won’t. Motherhood zaps your brain cells!”

She was right.

If you are a woman, they ruin your body. First they do it by distending your belly to such a degree that, especially if you have more than one or two, the skin simply gives up and sags. Then, if you breastfeed, they do it all over again to your breasts.

They also ruin your childhood memories or the things you love. You wouldn’t think they could, but they do. They do this either by just being present or by virtue of the increased “enlightenment” of the world in general since you were young.

When Jane was about two or three years old, one of my favorite songs came on the radio. One of those songs that I always sing along with at full volume if I’m in the car. Only there’s something about belting out “Hell is for children!” with my innocent, young sponge in the back seat that just struck me as wrong.

First I stopped singing. Then I turned down the volume. Then I changed the channel.

I knew Pat Benatar was singing about the evils of child abuse, but how could I explain that to my daughter if she asked? And would I want to? She ruined the song. For years, I’ve had to change the channel instead of sing along.

Movies fall victim too. I loved Real Genius when I was a kid. Loved it. I couldn’t wait until my kids were old enough to see it. We finally sat down to watch it one evening and, at first, they loved it too.

But then the woman that desperately wants to sleep with a genius came into the picture. She started trying to seduce Mitch, the young protagonist. Jane turned on one of my favorite childhood movies. Now, whenever the movie comes up, she says, “Oh, you mean that one where the woman wanted to rape a boy?”

When I protest, she reminds me that an adult having sex with a teenager is rape. When I remind her that the woman was not successful in her seduction, she points out that Mitch did have sex with his girlfriend, who was 18. He was not. Rape, says Jane.

The most recent experience wasn’t even with one of my own children. It isn’t enough that my own children sully the things I enjoy in life – no, my friends’ kids have to get in on it too.

I was driving my boys and my oldest son’s best friend when The Police’s classic, “Every Breath You Take” came on. Another song I love to sing with, and so I began.

To my surprise, our young guest began to sing along with me. Well, almost. His version went something like this:

Every breath you take and every move you make

Every bond you break, every step you take,

I’ll be stalking you

I glared at him and kept singing.

So did he.

Every single day and every word you say

Every game you play, every night you stay,

I’ll be stalking you

I tried to laugh it off, but now he had me thinking about the lyrics differently…

Oh, can’t you see you belong to me

How my poor heart aches with every step you take

Every move you make, every vow you break

Every smile you fake, every claim you stake,

I’ll be stalking you

I couldn’t ignore it anymore. That beautiful, beautiful love song from my youth was now creepy. Really creepy. He was right. The song wasn’t about dedication and forlorn love. It was about stalking.

Crap! I loved that song. And a kid ruined it.

They don’t stop when they become adults either. My sister-in-law ruined her mother’s love of watching football. She absorbed all the information about concussion and injury and declared the sport too violent. She harangued her mother for supporting it and cheering on. No, not only should no one play the sport, but no one should watch it either.

With a certain sad resignation, my mother-in-law stopped watching her Broncos. And now they are going to the Super Bowl!

I’m telling you, kids ruin everything.

The Muffin Fairy

There are delicious banana nut muffins that magically appear on a table near the front of my work area nearly every week. They are always the same. About a dozen, sometimes more, moist, fresh, scrumptious muffins in a gallon Ziploc bag. They are never burnt, never under-cooked, never overfilled such that there’s a crusty muffin top to contend with. They are always perfect.

Nobody knows who brings them. I’ve never known and when I’ve asked around, the people I ask don’t know either. It’s a mystery. I know it’s not my boss because he wasn’t at work the most recent day they appeared. And I know it’s not me. I think I can reasonably assume it’s not any of the people I’ve asked… unless they are lying to me.

Whoever it is should really consider quitting their job as an engineer and opening a bakery instead. Or maybe their spouse makes them? Maybe the spouse already owns a bakery. Maybe we are getting gourmet muffins. And they must make a lot of them if the family actually lets them leave the house and come to work. Or are they made especially for us?

One of my co-workers stopped by my office. He was eating a muffin. I asked if he knew who brought them. He shrugged.

“The Muffin Fairy,” he said.

The Muffin Fairy. That explains it. I’ve never seen a fairy. And I’ve never seen the deliverer of the muffins. I’m pretty sure that none of my co-workers have seen a fairy. And I’m fairly certain none of them have seen the muffins get placed on the table. Fairies don’t like to be seen.

I think I’ll quit asking around. Fairies can be persnickety beings. I’d hate for this one to decide we were no longer worthy of these muffins.

Mom’s Special Day

I called my mom on her birthday. I was really good this year – I called her by 8:30 in the morning. Maybe she decided to sleep in though because she didn’t answer her phone.

I was sitting at my desk at work and as I listened to her voicemail recording, I quickly tried to decide whether to leave a message and, if so, what to say. In my heart of hearts I knew what I had to do.

Quietly, I sang “Happy Birthday to you…” I almost lapsed into childhood with “you live in a zoo…” but even though I was singing very softly so as not to be overheard by any co-workers, I went the safe route. “… Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Mommmmmeeee, Happy Birthday to you!”

I then explained that I sang it softly because I was at work but that I hoped she had a good birthday and I hoped she’d give me a call back. I had just settled into reading my email when a co-worker poked her head into my office.

“Were you just singing happy birthday?” she asked, sounding puzzled.

I turned a little pink. So much for singing softly.

The day zoomed by with work and church and dinner and basketball practice and laundry and first grade homework and book reading. About 9:15, my husband said something about talking to his dad.

“I better try to call mom again,” I said.

Again, she didn’t answer her phone.

“I just want you to know that it’s not my fault I didn’t talk to you on your birthday,” I said to her voicemail. “I’ve tried twice now.”

After awhile, I began to worry. Not a lot – surely her boyfriend or mother or sister or other sister or someone would have called me if something was wrong. But still, maybe better safe than sorry.

So I sent my brother a text.

“Have you talked to mom today?” I asked.

“No, should I?” he responded.

“Really, Aaron?”

“I don’t talk to her everyday,” he said, adding “What’s going on?” before I could reply.

“Neither do I but I try to make it a habit to call her on her birthday.”

“Shit”

He later tried to tell me that he’d been playing referee with his kids all day after schools were cancelled.

“Excuses excuses,” I said.

“Hey, you haven’t talked to her either”

Ahhhh, dear brother… but I tried. At least I tried. And remembered. TWICE! I ought to get bonus points for that!

Of course, while I was blogging about this, he probably called and she probably answered. Or maybe he sent her a text and when I send mine in a few minutes, it’ll look like he came first. Not that I’m competitive with my brother, mind you. I just want credit where credit is due.

Well, and to talk to my mommy. I kinda like the lady.

Toe Ring Pondering

I’ve never quite “gotten” toe rings. I’ve owned a few. Probably still have them somewhere. I tried to wear them but it always felt unnatural. Maybe it’s because I have short, stubby toes. I don’t know.

At any rate, I always thought I understood the point. Like most jewelry, it was to look good. You wore them while barefoot or while wearing sandals. People couldn’t possibly wear them because they liked the way they felt, right? They didn’t wear some family heirloom toe ring everyday, right?

Now I’m not so sure. Now I’m wondering if some people wear them 24-7. And if they do, why?

It all started when I went to weigh in for a contest at work. The goal is to not gain weight over the holidays and I knew there was no point in me weighing in. My name would not be put in the drawing for the prize. But I went anyway.

Another lady came in right behind me. We took off our coats. And our sweaters. And our jewelry. And our badges. And anything else we could take off and still be decent. We were both wearing tall boots. We took those off too. And our socks – the scales required us to be barefoot.

I weighed first, cleaned the scales, and then began to redress. I glanced over at her feet. A lot of us don’t expect our feet to be seen much in the winter. This lady, however, had fabulously painted red toenails. And… to my surprise… a toe ring on the middle toe of her left foot. I looked again, thinking surely it was my imagination. But, nope. There it was.

Why is she wearing a toe ring inside her boot? I wondered. Do other people do this? Is this a thing? What’s the point?

I soon forgot about it when I got back to my desk. I didn’t think about it again until I got in the shower this morning. I looked down at my feet as the water washed over me and I thought of the woman’s toe ring.

Does she sleep with it on? Does she shower with it on? Is it like a wedding ring that never comes off? And why? How did she ever get used to wearing it?

Any ideas? (Besides that I’m neurotic and ponder totally useless things?)

Sometimes…

Sometimes, when I’m walking back out to my car in a crowded parking lot and I can’t quite remember where I left it, I click the unlock button on my FOB so my car will beep at me.

Sometimes, I’m way off on where I think the car is, so I hear the beep from a distance and navigate slowly toward it, clicking the button and listening for the responding beeps.

Sometimes, when I do this, I imagine that my car is nearly sentient – my patient, friendly, personal robot calling back to me. When I finally find my way to the right aisle and the click of the button elicits the beeps and the car flashes its headlights at me, I smile at my success. And I imagine that my robot is smiling too. As happy as I am to be reunited. My own personal R2-D2.

Sometimes, life is simple and pleasing and whimsical and fun. Sometimes.