Let’s Go To The Mall

Apparently I have not been out of the house in too long and life has changed quite a bit while I was taking this self-isolation thing to a whole new level. My daughter dragged me to not one, but two malls in 48 hours and I have discovered many new and horrifying things.

First, there are vending machines that sell false eyelashes. I shit you not. Vending machines stocked full of spidery looking little beasts in plastic cases. The first thing my daughter asked was “where is the glue?” I thought she meant what people must be sniffing to make them shove a credit card into a machine and wait for it to spit out some eyelashes at them. My first question was who is walking through the mall thinking “you know what would make this experience better…. giant fake eyelashes!” I mean, are that many people experiencing the loss of lashes while shopping that they need vending machines? I would have thought this was a joke but there were multiple machines at this mall containing thousands of eyelashes. If they are going to be dispensing beauty supplies in the same fashion teenagers buy chips and soda, I would prefer it be something useful like a nail file. I broke two nails carting around my kids’ bags and couldn’t find a file to save my life. You would think I was in a prison, not a mall. Although the similarities of the experiences are strikingly similar.

The second thing I learned is that there are no actual stores at the mall. All I wanted was a new pair of Chucks and the Converse store is apparently only open half the week. Most of the clothing stores I was planning on shopping at had signs on their closed gates stating their limited open times. Strangely, the store that sells wedding and prom dresses straight from the 80s was booming. I guess big lashes and big dresses are all the rage. The pretzel place that smells like barf was closed which was the only saving grace. The stores that were open were only about half stocked. We went into at least three stores that had nothing in my daughter’s size and about half of the selection that I saw online the week before.

Somehow, in the last two days of putting in 20,000 steps at the mall I managed to schlep home a carload of bags full of landfill and sugar. My kid now has enough fidget toys to keep her hands busy for the next 10 years and I am going to have to walk around the planet to burn the calories packed into the multiple bags of candy we picked up. No wonder all of the stores are closed. They are busy widening all of the waistbands after we sit on our fat asses eating truffles and playing with stress balls.

**While driving from mall to mall, this is the album my kid wanted to hear over and over and over… 

Miss Communication

They need some form of parental warning on television that reads “Warning – may induce uncomfortable conversations.” Forget about sex, violence and swearing, I need a warning to leave the room before a subject like puberty comes up. My child has asked me about the female anatomy more than I cared to discuss in the past week.

The first time she was watching The Babysitters Club. In one episode the girls talk relentlessly about getting their periods. When my daughter asked me what that meant I told her we’ll talk about it next year but it’s something that happens to all girls and she doesn’t need to worry about it at the moment. Luckily when one of the characters mentioned that a sculpture she created was themed menstruation it went right over her 9 year old head. Thank sweet baby Jesus the sculpture wasn’t actually constructed out of tampons and maxi pads. She was later watching a show with teenage girls where they discussed underarm hair. I found my kid with her head shoved into her pits an hour later. She has already asked me when she can start shaving her legs after she noticed she has more leg hair than the boys in the neighborhood.

YouTube can be problematic because there are a lot of channels with a variety of content, so it’s hard to keep track of what is appropriate. Even when she searches for “water fails” or “funny videos” sometimes she gets videos with people dropping F-bombs. One would think after spending the last nine years as a passenger in my car, cursing wouldn’t affect her, but she reacts to swear words like she is being physically assaulted in the ear. She hears someone yell “oh shit” as they fall off a trampoline and she immediately changes the channel. I am left wondering if “oh shit” actually happened or if they bounced right back.

I have banned more “kid friendly” channels than I can name. She used to love watching this baking lady named Rosanna until she went and changed her face to look like a Kardashian. When a little girl says “why did she make her face look like that?” you may have a problem. I had to have a chat with my kid about the sad and stupid reasons people get plastic surgery. Watching this “entertainer” has led to conversations about how many women play dumb to get more viewers and how she probably spends more time in hair and makeup than actually filming. It’s annoying that every time I turn on YouTube I feel compelled to explain to my daughter how pathetic people are and why it’s scary to me that half of the kids her age want to become internet stars. I would rather talk about menstruation!

An uncomfortable conversation warning would have been most helpful this morning when my daughter was scanning through channels like a remote control ninja. She was watching 30 seconds of the scariest amusement parks then 20 seconds of a Harley Quinn makeup tutorial when she stumbled upon a video about the most shocking people in the world. Of course she had to see the video when the cover shot was of conjoined twins. The video started with “Meet Sarah, the woman who has up to 1,000 orgasms a day!” Thanks YouTube. My daughter immediately turned to me and said “Mom, what’s an orgasm?” and it took every ounce of my being not to make some joke like “a myth according to most men” or “something your sex ed teacher will tell you is unnecessary.” If my brain was not currently melting from the question, I could have responded with something like “I think they said organism honey” and gone into a detailed explanation. Instead I blurted “this is kind of adult content. Let’s watch something else” and hoped she didn’t notice that I was about to pass out. Now I am searching her school’s website to determine when she will have a sex education class in school.

I pretty much ignore ratings on television and the internet so a warning probably wouldn’t help me anyway. I allow my child to watch a lot of content that would not be deemed suitable by those placing warnings all over the internet, but I also don’t plop her in front a screen unattended. We have countless conversations about fairly heavy topics and she asks questions like “why are most of the parents in movies divorced?” These are questions I am equipped to answer. Why Sarah is ultra-orgasmic is not a topic I am ready to tackle just yet. YouTube has a rating system that covers violence, nudity, drug use and even strobe lights. What they really need is a warning that states “Content may cause your child to ask when she will grow pubic hair or what a dominatrix does.” That would be helpful. It would have been REALLY helpful yesterday.

**I wrote this while listening to the very first lyrics I had to explain to my kid. Thanks Glenn Danzig.

 

 

 

Elf on a Shelf

It snowed a few days ago, and buckets of that white stuffed poured on us for a full day. While my daughter was home for a snow day, she decided that it was the perfect time to decorate for Christmas. In theory, it wasn’t a horrible time, but I had literally just taken down our Halloween decorations the day before and we still have pumpkins and cobwebs on the porch. My house is like a holiday mullet with pumpkins in the front and santa in the back. Plus, all day I had been laughing at memes on social media saying things like “Snow in November happens because people decorate for Christmas prematurely. You know who you are. Stop it.” Now all I can think is clearly these people are spying on me. Somehow I don’t think I’ll get any credit for hot days in April when I decorate early for the Fourth of July. Then again, my Christmas decorations may very well still be up well into spring.

Normally when I decorate, I put the same pieces in the same places, but apparently I am getting senile as well as acquiring more decor because I stood there looking at half empty bins strewn across my house, unable to remember where anything went. Meanwhile, mini me ran through the house randomly placing ornament stands and two foot tall sparkly trees on the piano bench and next to the toilets. Apparently she likes to feel festive when she pees. I found her and a half decorated tree by following the trail of glitter. At one point I even joined in, trying to set up a snowman in our guest bathroom, but my husband promptly put a stop to that by reminding me that my mother has literally close to 50 snowmen in her guest bathroom. It is so packed in there that it’s hard to even find the toilet, let alone the sink. I don’t know if it was my fear of becoming a hoarder or the idea that someone could potentially pee all over Frosty, but I cleared out the bathroom pretty quickly.

I eventually figured out what normally goes where and then moved things around for another two hours before I finally gave up and started dragging empty bins downstairs. When my little elf pranced in suggesting we get started on the tree I laughed right out loud. Magically, I have two shelves with no decorations and I somehow acquired a bag containing 150 ornaments that had a $4 price tag on it. Apparently I couldn’t pass up an after Christmas sale even though our tree is already at maximum ornament capacity. Luckily we just bought a new coffee table with a glass top and a shelf below that holds exactly 150 sparkly globes. I would normally try to convince my husband I had bought the bag of bulbs for this exact spot and I am clearly a genius, but he had just redirected me from placing a fluffy white snowman six inches from the urine zone, so I kept my mouth closed.

So once again, it looks like someone ran through my house with a fire hose shooting glitter, and I am in heaven. Everything is sparkly and shiny and I even found spaces for hundreds of ornaments. It’s finally time to light the balsam scented candles, although I feel like fall lasted about three and a half minutes. Maybe I’ll keep the multi-holiday theme going and light some leaves scented candles in the front rooms and balsam in the back. Tis the season!

*I wrote this while listening to The Interrupters

 

All In a Row

Life would be easier if everyone would just do what I tell them to. When my family and friends are acting exactly as I want them to, things run smoothly. It’s when my cast goes off script that the wheels come off the wagon.

I am a recovering control freak. It’s a condition I have been afflicted with my entire life. I think everyone is born with it. I mean babies are the biggest control freaks on the planet. They want what they want, when they want it and they are going to scream and cry until they get it. Some of us just never outgrow that phase of life I guess. I am one of those people. Although now I don’t scream and cry to get my way – I usually just give a stern look or manipulate the crap out of the situation. I can also argue my point for hours and wear my opponent down if need be.

I didn’t even realize what a control freak I was until a few years ago. People just always kind of did what I asked of them for most of my life. I think this is the way with a lot of control freaks. I knew I was a pain in the ass, I just wasn’t sure why. Now that I know I have an issue, I try to step away from the controls. The problem is it’s like having your hands on a marionette and then expecting the strings to move by themselves when you let go.

My first family vacation in control freak recovery was a tough one. Instead of getting prime seats by the pool, we sat a few rows back. We ended up eating lunch at a restaurant that I didn’t have the menu memorized so I had no idea what to order and a storm blew through while we were still outside. I blamed that storm on my letting go of the wheel – like I could control nature! Things just didn’t move as quickly because everyone was standing around waiting for me to bark orders. If the rest of my family had known I was trying to step away from the wheel, it would have been fine.

Things have become easier now that my family knows I am trying to let go a little. Sure my kid goes grocery shopping in a costume and we show up late to almost everything, but nobody has lost a limb yet and I haven’t given myself high blood pressure. I do still pick the restaurants most of the time, organize events and do most of the driving – even other people’s cars. But believe me when I say I am A LOT better than I used to be. What can I say, I’m a work in progress.

 

Can I Scream?

Have people developed an aversion to headphones recently? I have been noticing more and more people watching streaming content on their phones and tablets at the gym without using headphones. They have the volume cranked up like they are lounging on their couch in their underwear, completely unconcerned about whether or not their noise is bothering anyone else.

Several years ago when my husband and I were in Atlantis, we were walking through the aquarium when an even trashier version of the cast of Jersey Shore came strolling through the halls. They were blasting music from a boom box hoisted on one of the spiky haired guido’s shoulders. I was disgusted – both by their greasiness and their manners. I mean, who does that? It was like walking down a New York City street in the 80s. Now, every time I hear someone’s music or movie emanating from their device, all I can see are the greaseballs slinking through the aquarium. Somehow seemingly normal, albeit rude, middle aged women morph into overly tanned, overly painted meatballs the second those speakers chirp.

There are a few women in my gym who watch television on their devices while pumping away on the elliptical machines. One woman watches what I can only surmise is a tween fantasy show on her tiny iPhone. Every time a new scene starts, twinkly music bursts out of the speaker. It’s like Tinkerbell is flying out of her phone every 5 minutes. She is an Asian woman and every time her little bells start chiming I want to tell her that she is not helping to disprove any of the stereotypes regarding Asian women and their love of all things little girl-like. At least I can’t hear any of the actual dialog from whatever she is watching, just lots of giggling and bells.

A new woman walked into my gym the other day and proceeded to set up her over sized tablet in front of her. She spent the next hour blaring a cop show while everyone within twenty yards of her cleared out of the gym. It took every ounce of self-discipline I have – which is not much – to not sidle up next to her and crank up some Hatebreed on my iPod. Luckily I was reading a book by the Dalai Lama so I was extra zen.

I don’t know if it is our increasing selfishness, sense of entitlement, or ability to be in the middle of a crowd without ever actually interacting with other people, but it’s obnoxious. I thought it was bad enough when I had to listen to people talking on their phones in line at Target, now I have to be privy to their Netflix playlist.

 

 

In the Thick of It

A friend of mine recently told a story about being the only mom participating in an activity while other moms sat back watching. She was on vacation, in the ocean taking a surf lesson with her husband and kids. Other moms sat on the beach taking photos and watching while their families had an adventure. The women  documented the event as their families experienced it.

Her daughter noticed the anomaly and pointed it out. The tween asked why her mom was not doing what the other moms were doing (or not doing). In this story, the mom explained that she was in the water because she had recently gotten into better shape and was finally comfortable in the wet suit, whereas six months prior she would have probably made an excuse to sit on the beach instead of getting in the water. She shared with her daughter that she was happy to be in a mindset where she would rather be participating in the adventure.

I wondered how many other moms were sitting on the sidelines for the same reason and how many were watching from a distance simply because “that’s what the moms do.” Most of my adventures as a kid were led by my dad. Sometimes my mom participated, and sometimes not. Her participation seemed to depend on the level of danger involved. I think she shied away from some of our adventures after she mistakenly engaged the clutch instead of the brake on my dad’s motorcycle and almost ran me over. For the short period of time I played sports as a child, the dads coached and the moms watched. It seemed like anything physical was a “dad” activity and mom was left with arts and crafts or trips to the mall.

I have never been one to follow the crowd. I don’t sit on the sidelines and watch because “that’s what the moms do” and I have never bought the idea that different activities are better suited for boys than girls. I grew up on a motorcycle and skateboard. I am the mom who doesn’t mind getting dirty and certainly doesn’t mind making an ass out of herself. If it’s fun, I will do it. I am often a mom among dads and that’s just fine. There should be more of us if you ask me.

This story was on my mind when my family headed off to Florida for vacation a few weeks ago. Lo and behold, I saw moms all over the theme parks sitting and watching as their families rode the rides. It was most noticeable at the water park. Maybe the moms didn’t want to get their hair wet, or maybe they were uncomfortable climbing up the stairs in their bathing suits. Maybe they just wanted to relax and get a tan. I have no idea why these moms were watching instead of participating. All I know is I am not one of those moms.

We spent less than a week in Florida and I felt like I needed a vacation to recover when we got home. We were busy while we were there and I was often the one running up first to the rides. I have a handful of photos from vacation, but not nearly as many as I would like. But I will trade the documents of the memories for experiencing the memories any day!

 

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