While my daughter was doing volunteer work at school last week, the organization they were working at passed out a survey to get some background information about their volunteers. While in theory, this is a good practice, the volunteers on this day were fifth and sixth grade girls who didn’t even understand many of the questions, especially about sexual identity and orientation.
I received an e-mail later in the day from the head of school explaining what happened and offering an apology. The surveys were collected by the school since the girls did not have parental permission to be giving their phone numbers and addresses to strangers at a homeless shelter. I’m sure the surveys were pretty useless anyway since most of the girls had no idea what the options meant. I just felt bad for the teachers who had to field questions about the meaning of terms like pansexual and transsexual.
After reading the e-mail I asked my kid about the survey since she had not even mentioned it. She said her concern was that she couldn’t remember her phone number. Luckily an older girl next to her instructed her not to write her address or phone number on the form. I asked if any of the questions were confusing and she assured me she understood them. When I prodded for more information she told me that she answered “female” for her gender and “straight and homophobic” for her sexual orientation. This second answer gave me a little pause. I will concede that a lot of straight folks like myself are pretty vanilla, but we are not all bigots. Either she misread that question or the survey takers think all straight people are homophobes. I was leaning toward her not remembering the answers so I asked if she knew what “homophobic” meant. She informed me she did not and when I said it means you are afraid of and dislike gay people, she was horrified. I told her the term that meant the same thing as straight was heterosexual and she started laughing and said “yeah that was it!” I could not even contain myself to continue the conversation by that point. I guess we are getting to that sex education part of parenting a little sooner than I expected!
**Of course I am listening to the Queers while writing. How could I not?!
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…
My daughter is making her first reconciliation this week. For you non-guilt-ridden-catholics, this is the act of confession. We have been discussing this sacrament since she made her first communion a few years ago. Every time she is a little asshole to me or her father I tell her she may want to add that to the list. Until recently she claimed she had nothing to confess. She sounds like her grandfather who claims to go to confession just to chat with the priest since he has no sins to repent for. I know both of them too well to believe either of them and I think they may want to add lying to their lists as well. But apparently sending her to a catholic school has instilled some of that good old fashioned shame into her and she is now ready to make her first confession.
Unfortunately, she is scheduled to partake in this event while I am otherwise occupied. I honestly didn’t make other plans to avoid repenting for my various sins, I just have a prior engagement. When we discussed this time conflict it was determined by my family that everyone is better off with me skipping out. My husband commented that the priest wouldn’t have time to hear anyone else’s confessions after listening to me for hours on end. My daughter’s only response was “yeah, it would be like you talking to your therapist!” which she apparently believes I do for hours on end while she is at school. I would try to disagree with them, but I can’t in good conscience say I don’t have a laundry list of misdeeds to atone for. This week alone I can name a dozen things I said or did. Fortunately, I can also name a dozen good deeds I have done as my little act of atonement.
I didn’t want to point out to my family that I have improved by leaps and bounds in the past few years. If they had any idea how many times I actually hold back from expressing myself when some idiot says something idiotic, they would actually be impressed. Luckily for them, I keep most of my comments to myself, even when they are the idiots saying something idiotic. Who says people can’t change?!
*I wrote this blog while listening to my favorite.
We have been playing a lot of games as a family lately, and after the first few games, I really don’t know why we weren’t doing this more because it is hilarious. The best kind of game seems to be any kind where my child has to give an answer. It doesn’t even really matter what the question is because her answer is going to have us all rolling.
Last month we played a game my parents bought from some redneck comedian where you get a bunch of answer cards with phrases like “that’s what she said” and “you’re not supposed to do that to a melon.” A card with a scenario is drawn and everyone has to pick a phrase from their cards that they think fits best. No matter how hard I tried, my answers were totally inappropriate for a child to hear. Somehow I brought the game to a whole new level of dirty and we quit playing. On the plus side, my kid had no idea what I was crying about when I played the card that read “is it supposed to be that small?” repeatedly.
Last time we sat down with a deck of question and answer cards, they were a little more benign. My mom had chosen a game where kids answer questions that adults would know and adults answer questions kids would know. Strangely, my dad appeared to know the most kid trivia and none of us could answer a single thing about Sean Mendez or Ariana Grande.
Here are some of my daughter’s best answers:
Q: What was Flipper?
A: A clown
Q: Sikhs wear what on their heads?
A: Those things with feathers…. The tall things. Oh I don’t know…. to which I replied “do you mean a headdress? That’s the wrong kind of Indian.”
Q: Fill in the blank – Smokey the…
A: Pig! (In her defense, my answer was Bandit)
Q: What did Michele Obama plant in the White House garden?
A: John Kennedy (If this were true, Milania Trump would have dug him up….)
Q: What president was also a famous actor?
A: Kennedy (I guess she has a thing for Kennedy. Who knew?)
We learned a lot last game night. Mostly that we know nothing about the things most kids do (which explains a lot about our family) and that I can make any game dirty. If you don’t believe me, just challenge me to a game of Scrabble.
*I wrote this while listening to the new Unsane.
People have lost their minds. Bat shit crazy, lost their minds. In just a week almost every one of my family members has had an encounter with a lunatic demanding everyone step aside for them to assert their rights. Strangely, not one of these incidents was related to wearing a mask in public which is where I see most of the lunatics asserting their “rights”.
My poor husband who never bothers anyone encountered some crazy old man who told him to “fuck off” after his dog came running through the school yard. The man had intentionally let his dog off it’s leash a foot in front of the “no dogs allowed” sign at the gate of the baseball field and the dog promptly charged my husband. When the sign was pointed out to the old geezer, he went on a tirade, swearing at my husband. Unfortunately, the dogs on the playground are common even though there are multiple signs forbidding it. One man told me not to worry because his dog was nice as it knocked down my toddler. I said “listen dude, I don’t know you or your dog, but I can read and your dog isn’t allowed here, and it certainly isn’t allowed to run wild without a leash in public”. He actually had the nerve to tell me to close the gate because the dog owners didn’t want the dogs escaping. I told him a leash would prevent that. There are dog parks for a reason. I like dogs even though I am allergic to them. I just don’t like having a dog inflicted on me or my family in a public place. It’s the equivalent of me sending my kid out to play with a steak knife. You never know what’s going to happen.
Even better than a rude dude with a dog is a rude dude with a cell phone. My dad was mowing his grass and as he drove his mower up to the driveway to empty the clippings a man came walking by on his cell phone. As the man walked closer he started making shushing motions at my dad and signaling for him to turn off his lawn mower. He pointed repeatedly at his phone and put his finger to his lips in an effort to persuade my dad to be quiet. My dad just laughed (and I suspect revved the engine a few times). I wonder if this guy called the airport to ensure no planes would be flying overhead during his super important call. My dad should have driven up around him in circles asking him why he was signaling him and what the hand gestures meant. I only wish the swearing dog owner lived in my dad’s neighborhood to see what kind of entitlement face-off could have ensued.
Some things just seem like common sense to me. Like if you want to let your dog run wild, go to a dog park, or your own backyard. If you want some quiet time to talk on the phone, get in your car or stay in your house. It’s rude to cut in line (even if it is to pick up your kid from school). It’s also rude to talk on the phone in a movie theater, while a cashier is helping you, or while you are in the middle of a meal. Kids play outside, and they may make some noise. People cut their grass, build decks and remodel their kitchens which might also be loud occasionally. The world does not revolve around you. Or her. Or him. Or me.
Oh yeah, and when you do feel like you are entitled to be an asshole, remember there is always a bigger asshole out there. I told my husband I would have followed that old man home and covered his lawn in dog poop the following night. I told my dad I would have followed the shusher all the way down the street cutting every neighbor’s grass on the way and singing really loudly and off key. Sometimes people just need to have a mirror held up to them to see how obnoxious their behavior is and I don’t mind being that mirror.