High School of Guns and Buns

Not surprisingly, the schools we are zoned for have terrible statistics. In short, they are probably the kind of institutions that churn out scrawny-pole-dancing-teen dad.

Mariachi quartets, solo guitar vocalists, A Capella Doo Wop groups, violinists, accordion players wheezing the theme song from The Godfather, these are just a few of the subway performers that bustle into crowded cars hoping to separate you from a dollar. Them – I can tolerate. It’s the candy peddlers, former drug-addicts and victims of abuse, religious pushers and especially, those horrible, pants-below-their-ass-idiot-pole dancers that really need to be shot.

Bothering people for money on a crowded train is one thing, but to ask riders to give up their seat or “move out of the way unless you gonna get kicked in the face,” is just Communist. So the last group of smelly teenagers who attempted this, I refused to move, to which the “leader”  – a scrawny 17-year-old with a wispy mustache that looked more like a mold growth replied, “Hey lady, I’m doing this to support my two-year-old kid.

I had to confirm that – did he just say he had a 2-year old kid? Yeah? With all the free education, information, housing, food and even condoms, this city gives to any moron who asks – we still have babies making babies?

If I were his mother, I’d slap him. If I were his baby mama’s mama, I’d crush his balls.

That experience was all I needed to start reviewing that big, fat High School Directory my son came home with at the end of 7th grade.

In the past four months, I’ve attended two workshops for parents, to fill out the application. Yes, you read that right, two workshops to fill this shit out. The day before school started, my son had to submit reviews for twenty – as in 5 x 4, or two entrees as Applebee’s – I kid you not – 20 high schools.

We got 14 – and even then, three of them are unrealistic for the commute.

The review asks us to judge the school according to safety (how many students in the school survey felt the school was safe), location, attendance and graduation percentage. Not surprisingly, the schools we are zoned for have terrible statistics. In short, they are probably the kind of institutions that churn out scrawny-pole-dancing-teen dad.

At one of the parent workshops, the speaker felt compelled to explain why the high school application process was like chasing a white rabbit. Apparently, New York, with over 400 high schools, 700 programs, processing about 80,000 applicants a year, has less than a 75% graduation rate. That’s why there’s only one Alice.

The high school programs, no doubt, are designed to wrestle the budding talent out of our kids, nurture it, hone it and hope that’ll keep them engaged to the end. The problem is kids like my son haven’t the faintest idea what a job is, much less their “calling.” When we were listing interesting school activities, he chose International Thespian Club, thinking it had something to do with Medieval times or dwarves for some reason. He crossed it off when he found out that thespians were actors, which he decided is not a career option, but being a lawyer is. If you ask me, they’re the same talent, different stage.

In any case, I told him it’s important to find something he likes to do and pursue it, because otherwise, life will suck. Sometimes, people know their purpose in life – like the dude who took his row boat to Texas to help the hurricane victims. He said, “I always knew it was my purpose in life to help people,” and thought, good for him – he found the purpose of having a row boat and included himself, too.

A high sense of purpose is what makes Alaska the happiest state, according to Weather.com. The saddest state is, get this, Hawaii. Yeah, you’d think, right?

I wondered what sense of purpose could possibly be that high, so I looked up which states had the highest rates of volunteers. Utah ranked the highest for volunteers between the ages of 18 and old folks, while Louisiana ranked the lowest. I was surprised to find that they ranked the opposite for unemployment because if you’re unemployed you kind of have time to volunteer but then I thought, duh, maybe they’re unemployed because they just don’t want to work.

That would be my son. He would do the research for an excuse not to do the work instead of doing the research to get work done. He would argue his case for an hour about not doing a job rather than spend 20 minutes just doing it. Technically, he’s working but it’s just like, the opposite. The undo key, if you will.

Which raised the question, why did we decide to have kids? I mean, is it really up to the parents whether our children become either an asset or a menace to society? Perhaps I’m taking this thing too seriously, but it is high school, and really – when can you not take education too seriously. Seriously.

At times, I can only hope that his luck will see him through – that Italian luck he seems to have inherited from his dad. Whether or not he gets into a high school of his choice is how much effort he puts into his auditions and interviews, because our zoned schools have unintentional programs in concealed weapons and how-to-get-away-with-zero-accountability. In the end, I’ll be happy so long as it’s not a school with more metal detectors than an airport and pregnant classmates in homeroom.

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To Medicate, or Not To Medicate: The Disorder of Corrupt Babies

Other articles addressing the rise in ADHD blame societal pressure: placing high demands on children. I tend to agree with that one. Did you know that Mayor DiBlasio of Halloween Town is planning Universal 3-K?

That’s right, full day school for fucking 3-year-olds, oh yeah, that sounds like a great idea.

Is it me, or are Demon children popping up everywhere?

The other day, I heard some sevenish-year-old girl say, “Mom! I told you to pack me the green swimsuit, NOT the pink one. You completely ruined my day!”

I was hoping to hear the mom retort with, “Don’t you talk to me like that, you little brat,” but no, she smiled lovingly and…apologized.

A-POLLO-gized!

I just wanted to slap her. The mother, the daughter – take your pick. But sadly, that wasn’t the first time I witnessed a Class A brat and their asshole-behavior-empowering-mother.  Another kid-asshole I witnessed was on the downtown subway. There was this 10-12 year-old kid yelling at his mother for looking over his shoulder while he was playing some video game on his iPhone. When they got to their stop, the mom told him to put away the phone and get up, to which he replied, “Shut up. Don’t tell me what to do.”

After they left, I joined all other riders, shaking my head and telepathically read their thoughts which said, bitch, smack that kid!

What, is there some special school for budding jerk-offs and princess-zillas that I don’t know about? These kids would take the honor roll in the subject of disrespect – they make Veruca Salt look like just a tough-gummy-bear. It’s disturbing.

Then, at the last visit to the neurologist (she renews my son’s Ritalin prescription – more on that later), I watched two grown women chasing around this one-year-old baby girl. It occurred to me that the baby was there to see the neurologist.

The baby.

Somebody must’ve convinced the mom that the baby has a disorder because it was fairly obvious that the baby literally hit the ground running. If she wore a pedometer, I bet the baby would average one million steps a day. The mother in tow – eight-hundred-thousand steps – easily.

Instead of teaching her to redirect her hyperactivity with a toy, a book or a security blanket they let her waddle from office to office while one, sometimes both of the women shuffled an arms length behind her.

The baby climbed on chairs next to strangers, walked into rooms and tested closed doors with no adult intervention. She even barged in the doctor’s office during the doctor’s consultation with another patient and all the mother did was spin the baby around to exit. She didn’t reprimand the child nor did she apologize to the doctor and the patient – she just smiled as if they walked into some television sitcom, waiting for the canned laughter.

So, this is where it begins, folks. These parents catering to their kids – their babies even, instead of disciplining them. As tempting as it would be to lump them into a group like say, Millennial parents, or victims of over-diagnosis, or digital dependency, the single answer is more likely “all of the above,” which makes them harder to kill.

No, I kid – of course we don’t want to kill them. We don’t.

The Millennial parents and the victims of over-diagnosis could be coincidental but I think it’s obvious they go hand in hand. In my day, only rich people could afford psychiatric counseling, everybody else just got high and neither were covered by health insurance. But Millennials grew into puberty just in time for peddlers of anti-anxiety drugs. It seems only natural that as parents, they’d seek a medication for a disorder of their kid just being a kid.

In The Psychopath Test, Jon Ronson goes into the rise in cases of ADHD and Autism as a result of DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). Basically, DSM-5 is a book containing checklists for all known mental disorders. I know, sounds tempting, right?

So in The Psychopath Test, the DSM editor reveals that these parents usurp their parenting skills by attaching a label like ODD (oppositional defiance disorder) rather than admitting that their kid is a stubborn pain in the ass. All I know is that if there is a foolproof medication for ODD, I’d try to get some for my husband.

Other articles addressing the rise in ADHD blame societal pressure: placing high demands on children. I tend to agree with that one. Did you know that Mayor DiBlasio of Halloween Town is planning Universal 3-K?

That’s right, full day school for fucking 3-year-olds, oh yeah, that sounds like a great idea.

If I was a day care worker at 3-K, I’d be gnashing my teeth to be politically correct. “Your baby may not be an angel but he’s certainly corrupt! That’s the kind of full day we had, mom.”

I thought it was outrageous that Kindergarten parents were expecting their child to write three pages of content for homework. Now they’ll be expecting baby sister to finger paint Cubism. Well, okay maybe Surrealism but trust me, they will be maneuvering her into “gifted” classes when the kid is still shitting herself.

In another article, parenting policies were compared between the U.S. and France. Apparently, France doesn’t believe in Kid’s Menus. Children eat what adults eat because it’s probably balanced and proportionate. In other words, it’s not a quarter pound of fatty ground beef for dad and chicken nuggets with french fries for junior. Don’t like chicken? How about pizza and Cheez Doodles. And we wonder why they’re cranky. You know, Bloomberg had a lot of stupid ideas, but his attempt to ban large containers of sugary drinks actually made sense to me.

If anything should be banned, it should be those limousine-strollers on mass transit. And while we’re at it, how about a children’s fare, Mr. Mayor? To Hell with your 3-K, looking out for the working-class family, my ass.

I digress. After all this ranting, I promised to explain my son’s ADD label and clear the hypocrisy. Honestly, I don’t believe he has ADD – I think he hates math and he prefers siestas after lunch instead of crunching numbers. Who wouldn’t? However, teachers get evaluated and caffeine may stunt his growth, so that was my answer for “to medicate, or not to medicate…” – wait, what was the question?

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The Grief of Babes

It was a beautiful, sunny day in July of 1999 when Maureen passed away. It had been only five days since her 31st birthday and like an abrupt ending of a movie, that was it. From the window, I saw birds hopping and sorting through life-sustaining valuables to bring back to their nest. They are full of life, I thought, but Maureen is dead.

Truth is felt – not understood.

I wondered what would become of her two children. They were still so small; Michelle was eight, Trevor was five. She doted on them with so much love, laughter and food – it seemed impossible to even offer them that now, without causing pain.

That evening, Michelle and Trevor’s dad sat them down on either side of him. He told them their mom would not be returning from the hospital – she was gone. Michelle buried her head in her father’s chest and Trevor ran off into another room. He returned with some paper and crayons and said, “Michelle! Here, draw your feelings – don’t cry, just draw! Here,” as he thrust the paper towards her.

In the days that followed, he hardly ever cried. He would often stand still in certain places of their house and look around, as if he could sense her haunting. His sister, on the other hand, would burst into sporadic tears over nothing. She became moody, irritable – even mean.

That was my first experience with children dealing with grief. At the time, I was a little surprised at their lack of sadness. I know now it was ignorant of me to expect them to mourn like adults and to think that grief was a one-size-fits-all emotion. I couldn’t discern the plethora of other emotions that children experience in trying to process the idea of death. What I saw then and only understood now were emotions like loneliness of the void their mother left, anger in the vulnerability they suddenly felt – anxiety and helplessness in the breakdown of routine, guilt because they were still egocentric, and the most heart breaking of all – yearning, as they scrutinized shadows for their mother – just to name a few.

It’s not that suddenly, I became this expert but recently, our family lost a really good friend. We had gone on Scouting events, celebrated Oktoberfest, and birthdays, and leftover Thanksgiving pies with Bourbon – it wasn’t supposed to end just yet. It forced me to recall the experience and do the research for the sake of my own children and their friend who is now facing a life without a loving dad. This may be their first rodeo but it certainly isn’t mine.

I’m not giving anybody ten steps to cope with grief, especially not children. You can keep your counseling to yourself and stick your meds up your ass – this was all part of the package from the very beginning. There is no right answer, just like there’s no wrong decision. The only true therapy is time and the hope that we have it.

There’s no right or wrong way of coping with loss. The best anyone can do is go on. Yes, it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to not cry. Go ahead and laugh, go ahead and drink, eat an entire chocolate fudge cake if that’s what the moment calls for. Be a rock or be a hot mess – just be. Life goes on, however bleak it may seem.

As for Michelle and Trevor, they’re adults now. I wish I could say they turned out just fine, but I have no idea. They’ve cut ties and lost touch with everyone that had anything to do with their mother. Two years after she passed, their father remarried and that was the last we really saw of them. It seems their life was destined to be one abrupt ending after another.

For me, that’s the real loss and I’ll bet, that it’s just me. For them, it may have been the only way they could cope: to erase instead of cherish, replace instead of remember. Only sentimental fools get the luxury of being sentimental – she was not my mother after all. What do I know about the grief of babes.

If there’s anything to be said about human conditioning, it’s that strength and resilience can be cruel punchlines. We can’t say we want you to laugh but not laugh too loud. We try not to make life a joke but to get it. No adult quite believes that jokes are for kids, silly rabbit – but they can get it, too.

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Today’s Tom Sawyer: The Summer of Teen Jobbers

Nurse Jill told me that California patients get their infusion port in their arm instead of their chest, you know, because they have to look good in a bikini. I don’t know what level of narcissism (or is it unwavering optimism) one needs to be at to worry about looking good in a bikini after half a year of chemo, but for me, the line would be way the Hell over there. I’m not wearing any swimsuit, not even Hijab swimwear, which to me is a total kill-joy anyway, until I get this thing out of me.

That said, I had to look forward to one whole summer with two boys and probably some tag-alongs, and no plans to frolic in water. How does a mom stave off heat violence without an aquatic oasis? Well, the answer is – give ’em somethin’ to do.

Had we a picket fence, they could spend the hot summer days white-washing the damn thing, but alas, we’re city dwellers – we have a rusting iron gate, badly in need of a new paint job. And so they came to be, my son and his friend, today’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn – sans the river and Injun Joe.

Things were working out beautifully. It was a sweltering 90-something degrees, the work was tedious and grueling – any hotter and the situation may have constituted as slavery. Before they thought to call the labor department, I served them ice cold Arnold Palmers after an hour’s work because no slave driver would ever do that. Although the strip job was spotty and probably caused more damage than good, I commended their efforts and told them to get back to work.

That’s when my son’s friend asked, “If this is work, aren’t we supposed to get paid?”

To which my son replied, “We get paid in food – we eat lunch!”

As a matter of fact, I make lunch everyday – so that statement is out of context. You see, at the beginning of this summer, my son and I volunteered at the Cub Scout Queens day camp at St. John’s University. We enjoyed a tasty buffet lunch everyday, which I told him qualified as payment – who knew he took it so seriously?

Now in comparison, the cuisine’s pay level between the camp and this iron-fence-paint-stripping job is like the difference between working for Google and Nubble Bubble Tea and Internet cafe. Luckily for me, his friend had no idea what the spread was at camp, and instant macaroni and cheese just happened to be one of his favorites, so there were no pay-rate disputes. Then again, they didn’t quite finish stripping the fence, much less get to paint it -which only proves, you get what you pay for.

All in all, it was about five hours of work, which is well within the confines of child labor laws. Might I add, the task was more grueling for me because I had to listen to their constant complaining and their shitty music the entire time. If they kept it up, I’d have been forced to bring out my laptop and show them pictures of real child-labor abuse.

Actually, I bring it up every time they moan about going to school. I’d say, “A hundred years ago, you’d be working in some depressing factory, or shining shoes, or risking your life in a coal mine for maybe forty-eight cents a day instead of going to school to spin a mini-fan blade between your fingers for “stress-relief” and dodging the lunch lady shoving free mystery-food. Would you rather work? Huh?!”

If it were a Wednesday morning, they’d give up the complaint – but Fridays – they might be inclined to say, yeah – I’d rather work. I think they’re curious about Happy Hour, which they’ve noticed starts hopping at 3 pm – at least in Sunnyside.

Now, they can only dream that they’d ever be served at Happy Hour – but even sadder, it’s just as much a dream that they’d ever find summer work. If you thought jobs were limited when we were teens, you have to think, what idiot would hire these greenies?

When I was fifteen my summer job was delivering airline tickets, my best friend was working at a candy store and my neighbor’s son delivered papers. According to the labor review, newspaper routes have been on the decline since the 1990’s. You’d think it’s because more people are receiving the news digitally but no – we print the same amount of newspapers today.

So what’s left – babysitting? Millennials working for Millennials, is that even possible? It would take them all night just to work out the pay rate.

My ten-year-old (which is not considered a Millennial) already got a taste for making real money performing with the American Ballet Theater. After he got paid, he wanted to “invest” that money into creating a Youtube channel. He’s convinced tens of thousands, maybe even a million subscribers will watch him open boxes of Pop figures and Rick and Morty paraphernalia he orders on Amazon.

Now you know why we call him Consumer Boy.

I honestly believe consumerism ruins work ethic. Consumers don’t care about what they do, they care about what they get for it. But I do admire their focus. Yes, maybe they’re entrepreneurs; maybe they’re innovators – they’re what my mom calls “hungry.”

But will they work for Mac n’ Cheese?

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To The Pandemic Volunteer

Yes, I just compared volunteer work to slavery. If you think about it, there’s only one difference – gratification. No reasonable person would volunteer unless they enjoyed the work.

A friend showed me a pen she received as a gift – it said, “Stop me before I volunteer again.”

“It’s a reminder,” she explained but its ineffectiveness was obvious as we realized, this was the second parent association we’re on together as volunteers.

As I handed back the pen, I sighed and already it sounded like a threat of resignation. But really, who am I kidding? We’re volunteeraholics. She probably signed up with that damned pen.

Every pandemic volunteer knows what I’m talking about. We call ourselves suckers, targets, 3D losers and we compare our tasks like they’re death sentences.

After serving my time on one thing, I say it’ll be the last and even tell my husband that I’ll take his advice and stop signing up for shit. But the truth is, volunteer work never ends. If it does, it ends badly because slaves don’t get fired.

Yes, I just compared volunteer work to slavery. If you think about it, there’s only one difference – gratification. No reasonable person would volunteer unless they enjoyed the work. They sign up year after year because it’s gratifying and good for the soul. Those are the volunteer gigs where you’re surrounded by like-minded, hard-working, good-willed people and they really are a life experience. Every once in while though, you’ll come across a douchebag who is a slave master and that can fuck with your head.

If that happens, you have to tell yourself that the only jackass who should be tolerated is one that signs your paycheck. Otherwise, walk. You need the aggravation like you need hemorrhoids. I have a friend who sorely needs to take this advice – not the friend with the pen – someone else who stayed on even after everybody left.

Now she’ll have to learn the same lesson I learned the hard way – don’t fill a void. If an organization needs you to fill an important role, the last thing you should do is stick around to find out why because I can tell you why. That role is vacant because the last person was a mistreated mule that most likely died under a pile of bullshit.

But for the rest, I toast my fellow volunteeraholics. You may not always be recognized or appreciated for that matter, but you’ve made a difference, a contribution that is far more valuable than money.

So – Thank You. Thank you, very much.

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A Parent’s Guide To Middle School

We need a new scapegoat. Our classic villains were once American Indians, then Nazi’s, the Russians, followed by Wall Street tycoons and finally, terrorists. But we can no longer target a particular race if we want to be politically correct. So I suggest we target politicians.

They’re the perfect villain. They lie, steal and generally ruin everything – even corruption.

Case in point – Middle School.

I knew the day would come when my child would be entering Middle School. I also knew, no matter what, there was going to be a tremendous suck factor.

The choices were, walk to our neighborhood middle school and hope to squeeze in with 2,000 other students in a building meant for half that – or go to school on the moon.

They must have a space shuttle that goes there, right?

Of course, I’m kidding – I know we euthanized all the astronauts. But I kid you not, my son’s commute to school is further than his father’s commute to work.

That’s the reality today – to get to sixth grade, kids will have to travel to Cuba because no one had the insight that Middle School would need a place to exist anywhere near their preceding school.

Did I mention they built a new elementary school smack in the middle of two other elementary schools and are in the process of building another elementary school nearby?

Let’s not even get into full day Pre-K. Like we need to send a four-year old to school all day only to offer him nothing when he passes the fifth grade.

Maybe because middle schoolers aren’t small and cute anymore, they’ve been banished to a place far, far away.

Out of sight, out of mind – and I get to take mine there.

We chose his Middle School because it’s a brand new building, the teachers are young and enthusiastic and so far he loves it. But every morning since he started, I’ve been religiously offering incense to our shrine. I figured if anybody’s going to look over my son, it’ll be my father’s spirit. My dad, the man who thought the best way to teach me how to swim was to strand me in the deep end of the beach.

I can imagine what he’d say about the situation, “Just let him go – if he gets lost, what’s the worst that could happen? He’ll crap his pants? Run into those topless women in Times Square? Better make sure he has some singles.”

And I want to just LET GO. But I know my son has a tendency to get “preoccupied.” It takes him ten minutes to put on a pair of socks, for crying out loud. He takes out a pair from the drawer and within a minute, he’ll forget where he left them. Then he’ll suddenly feel compelled to comment on baldness and completely forget to put on the other sock.

And I’m supposed to unleash this puppy on the subway?

So we’ll be giving him his own mobile phone to call us when there’s trouble. Some kids his age already had their own phone since fifth grade, but it wasn’t our intention to give him one until he grew underarm hair.

He’s got the odor – that’s close enough.

Maybe that was the plan all along – throw us to the wolves so we’d be forced to buy multiple phones and cars. Mind you, the cars we have already, have no place to park. The phones we’re trying to add are running out of available numbers – and we have five known area codes. By the time we figure it out, we’ll be buried in litter and dog poo and talking to the ghost of Christmas Future.

And I’ll bet he’s a politician.

 

 

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Layover Brooklyn

After obtaining her idNYC, my mom went on a sightseeing spree. She visted four boroughs in four days collecting her free memberships like an urban senior Zelda.

For a week she was texting me pictures of giraffes and sculptures and I had to figure out where she was. I think she got the idea from that Free Range Chicken in those Geico commercials.

Along the way, she devised a bright idea to take us on a journey of her favorites. Not one, not two – but three jewels of Brooklyn within the time frame of a layover. Crazy right?

First of all, Brooklyn is big and before you can even get to the edge of it, you have to go through most of Manhattan. That’s already too long of a subway ride. Then – there’s a million stops once you get into Brooklyn – it’s like a train in the Twilight Zone – it never gets to your station (cue cheesy music).

Still, we managed and began at the Brooklyn Museum, followed by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden with a grand finale of Coney Island.

With 15 minutes to kill before opening, we enjoyed eating onigiri (Japanese rice balls) while watching the water works at the Brooklyn Museum. It’s amazing the effect water has on people, especially kids who are insanely unfocused. It must be like watching synchronized spitting. It’s more interesting than Teen Titans – not as noisy either.

Inside, we had time enough to go through the “Rise of the Sneaker Culture” and got caught for an hour playing pinball, video games and foosball in theThe FAILE & BÄST Deluxx Fluxx Arcade. Who knew? That was worth the suggested admission right there because my guys could easily blow $50 for half an hour of arcade mania.

We entered the Brooklyn Botanic Garden from the Eastern Parkway entrance and went directly to the Japanese Garden. It was serenity beyond measure. Well, visually. By the time we got there, an outdoor concert in the adjacent parking lot was booming very annoying music. Not appropriate music, but a monotone, rap-reggae-what-the-fuck-are-they-singin’-about music that even annoyed the Koi fish.

To keep our visit to two hours, we skipped the Lily Pool Terrace. Probably regretful, still we saw the Cherry Esplande, Rose Garden, Rock Garden, Herb Garden and though we wished we had more time, we made it through the Discovery Zone. When they begged to play the xylophone that magically can’t play a wrong note for yet another hour, we simply said, “Guess you don’t want Nathan’s hot dogs!”

They clutched their empty bellies like an alien was busting out and busted out the Flatbush avenue exit towards the Q train.

A half hour later, we beelined towards Nathan’s Famous on Surf Avenue. Who thought that six dogs, two fries, hot wings, three medium Root Beers and a large Coney Island Lager would cost only…sixty-two dollars!

Or that the boys would actually eat all of that (minus the lager, of course).

What amazed me the most was that the cashier knew to pour me a large beer. And that it was less than eight bucks.

It was the biggest bill for one item of the day.

A whole seven dollars and fifty cents. That was treated by my mom.

The senior citizen.

With an idNYC card.

And that’s Zoltar.

Zoltar

 

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Need Some Help Here

I was searching for inspirational dinner music when my 10 year old requested Eminem.

Eminem?

Where did we go wrong?

It’s my husband’s fault.

He’s too forgiving when it comes to policing the quality of ethnically fused products that we don’t know much about like Rap music, Chi-Mex food, Keanu Reeves and Jello shots made by an adult-baby on Halloween.

Not only will he take Jello shots, he’ll insist – insist – that I do one or five of them, too.

Clearly, I should judge his parental judgements. After all, we had a 10 year old Wolverine and an eight year old Deadpool to bring home.

Ergo, I need some help here.

When the same 10 year old who requested Eminem dinner music, asked that I define the word “ergo,” my reply was that it was the same as therefore.

My example went, “The idiot wouldn’t stop his daredevil stunts, ergo, he wound up in the emergency room.”

Then he asked, “Does that mean he’s dead?”

“What? No – it means,”therefore, he’s in the emergency room!”

“Yeah, but is Ergo dead?”

Literally, my jaw dropped. As in, my mouth fell open – not as in, “Literally, I don’t know how to use the word literally.”

It occurred to me that one day – one of these days – I will take this boy of mine to Glasgow, Scotland. I’ll bet you, my bottom dollar, that he – full blooded Glaswegians – and my husband – will be in full fledged conversation.

They’ll completely understand each other.

Drink each other under the table, too.

And my head will (not) literally be spinning because I’m not Linda Blair, feeling I’ve spent the night with AWADDs (Aliens With A.D.D.) talking Scotch bubbles.

Ergo, this girl is still working on her career.

For the record, I did concede and told my 10 year old that Ergo was, indeed, dead.

His answer was, “Good. He sounds a lot like Samu.”

Need Some Help

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7 Costume Ideas for the Apathetic Halloweenster

My kids don’t get it – I hate Halloween. The memories I have of it are mostly…terrifying. Like that terrifyingly boring movie “Purge,” Halloween, in my time, meant dressing up in a costume enough to qualify for free candy – without being a clear target. The thugs, of course, wore their usual attire, to take off with your loot after they drenched you in raw eggs and Nair.

Like bachelor parties in Miami, bad things happen when you go all out on Halloween. Either you wake up with vague memories of doing jello shots with some serial killer or you realize the hard way that booze and prosthetic glue do not mix well.

That’s why simple is best – but not boring. This is New York, after all. Cat ears and a tail? A witch hat? Puh-leeze. People wear weirder stuff than that on any given day. Don’t look like a city mom wannabe!

Halloween is the one time, I wish I were a guy. If I were a middle-age rotund guy, I’d dress up like a woman every year. Contour my Moobs into a push up bra, flare skirt with boxer shorts showing off my hairy legs. Pumps. Red lipstick – and a tramp stamp.

I’d make my wife walk with me – no, have lunch with me – at the Thai restaurant on the corner of Queens Boulevard. Window seat.

But I’m not a guy – so it’s back to the drawing board.

Before kids, I could fit into outfits. Comic book characters. Bad ass women with guns, sneers and a belly button that wasn’t stretched into a smiley face. Now? Every accessory only emphasizes how tired I look.

Wigs give my eyes tremendous bags. Make up makes me resemble my dad and any outfit that’s not black, makes me seem like an emergency room escapee.

I stick with natural hair, dressed in black – no masks or black lipstick. Think, beer interference.

Oh yeah, and no boobs either. Wish I had those, too. If I had huge hooters, I’d tape a line of cotton across it, like one of those cocaine movies I can’t remember because I’ve never done coke. And I was probably hammered when I watched it – who makes movies about coke heads, anyway? You can’t understand them. Heroine addicts are way more fun to watch.

But back to the apathetic Halloweenster – my fifth grader is slowly becoming one. Compared to my half-assed costume ideas, his takes the slacker costume of the year. For the Halloween party, he was supposed to be Nick Fury of the Avengers. Since he rubbed off his goatee, he was to respond, “What’s in your wallet,” to the question, “Who are you supposed to be?”

To make matters worse, he lost his patch and because he was wearing an Iron Maiden t-shirt, people asked if he was supposed to be the singer from Journey.

Yeah, I don’t get that either.

On Halloween, the school paraded around the neighborhood in full Halloween spirit – and he was just too cool for it. While it’s okay to wear a Captain America helmet playing the drums, he couldn’t understand that it means nothing on it’s own. And no, a blue striped polo shirt nowhere near resembles the Captain’s uniform. “So I’ll go as nothing!” He said.

“I got it,” said Daddy, “how about wear the school uniform and go as a student.”

Eventually, we got him to dress as street clothes Rocky Balboa: fedora, gold chain, leather jacket and the piece de resistance: a blue punchball.

“If anybody asks who you are,” I coached him, “just say, Yo! Adrian!

He contemplated practicing his line but the slacker in him chose this excuse: “I can’t do an Italian accent, mom – I’ll sound Japanese.”

To him that made sense. Like Iron Maiden Steve Perry.

My advice, get yourself a long black coat – one that flares like a cape. Dress in black. After that, it’s just a matter of accessories. Of course, you’ll be a villain but who wants to be a good guy – they all wear tights.

  1. Heart shaped eye patch & sword: Stayne (Alice in Wonderland)
  2.  Sunglasses and boots: Matrix
  3. Horns and British accent: Loki
  4. Short white wig and black nail polish: Roy Batty (Blade Runner)
  5. Vampire teeth and padded butt cheeks: Underworld
  6. Clown make up and a stuffed crow: Eric Draven
  7. Split ends and a glowing ball: Balthazar (Sorcerer’s Apprentice)
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The Boys of Summer

The air conditioner in our bedroom is a noisy piece of crap. Every time it kicked on, it woke me up. So, counting on a mild August night, I turned it off and hoped the fan setting was enough. In five minutes, the room was boiling. A far cry from the luxurious accommodation of our weekend in Philly. As I labored for sleep, I remembered walking past a woman on her cell phone saying, “Well, sure but it’s hot as fuck out here!”

The bed started to feel like a fresh pizza. Finally, my feet hit a cool spot that just might remain cool enough to drift back to sleep when the door creaked open.

“Mama?” Said a little voice.

“Go back to bed.” I said.

“My head hurts.”

“That’s ’cause you should be asleep.” I said, and groaned because the cool spot was now – hot.

“And I’m thirsty,” continued the little pecker-head, as he proceeded to climb into my bed.

My limbs were groggy as I ushered him out to the bathroom and when I turned on the light, I was astonished.

Samu must’ve grown three inches in his sleep!

Suddenly, I’m overcome by a wave of melancholia. Or terror. Either they’re growing overnight or it’s an invasion of the body snatchers. But I realize it’s really him and not an alien who busted out of an eggplant when he filled his cup with water – dumped it – filled it again – dumped it again – filled it again and took just two tiny sips.

“I don’t want summer vacation to be over,” he whimpered.

It hit me, too. “Yeah, we had a lot of fun this summer – didn’t we?”

My mind took a brief inventory: Track & Field, Golf, Baseball sleepover and let’s not forget sunburn. Nothing like walking the streets of Philly with Daddy looking like a leper.

Samu and I shuffled our way back to his bed. My steps just as heavy and sad as his. Our fun in the sun – was done.

For me, it was more than that. This summer just might be the last when my boys are “boys”. Next year, Zuki will likely be the same height as me. And Samu – should at least have a butt that’ll hold a pair of swim trunks bigger than 3T.

In the dark, I could hear his tears hit the pillow. I could tell he wanted to sing the theme song he created combining the “Titanic” and “Lord of the Rings”. He’d been humming it all summer when he was sad – when he lost an eyeball for his Mixel, when the frog at the beach got plucked by a seagull.

But his big brother was snoring away. And, that kind of ruined it.

“How’s your head?” I asked as he held my hand.

He sighed deeply and answered, “I want to go back to the hotel in Philadelphia.”

I did, too. The air conditioner was quiet.

Boys of Summer

 

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