I picked my younger son up from preschool today, and as we were walking down the hallway to leave the building, he pointed up at a poster that displayed the letter B.
"What starts with B, Mommy?" he asked me, his hand in mine.
"Oh, lots of things, buddy...actually, buddy starts with B."
"And Bubba?" he asked, saying the name that he and his brother both call each other.
"Yes! Good one," I replied.
"And what else?" he asked.
"Hmm," I said. "Butterfly starts with B."
"Oh, yes!" he said, jumping up and down excitedly.
It was turning out to be such a cute conversation that I found myself wishing that we were being documented by a film crew to showcase what an awesome mother I am.
What? You guys don't find yourselves thinking about what kind of reality show your life would make? And if not, does that mean I watch too much trashy reality TV?
"Your turn," I said.
He paused, thinking, and then looked up at me, brow furrowed in serious concentration. "Does butt fungus start with B?"
On second thought, I was kind of glad my imaginary camera crew hadn't turned up today.
"It does," I replied, glancing backwards as I hurriedly scooted him out the door to make sure his teachers--real straight arrows this year, unfortunately--wouldn't hear him and give me one of those, "Really?" looks like they always do in regard to how I mother my children.
Perhaps it's time I reconsider some of the pet names I use for my boys.
Friday, October 2, 2015
A few months ago, I ran my 8th half marathon.
It didn’t go well.
I only have one rule for myself when I run races of any distance: I have to run the entire way. I don’t care if my run—especially at, let’s say, miles 10, 11, 12, and 13—looks more like a broken-down shuffle that, in all actuality, is slower than my walk. I still have to run the whole way.
Once, I was behind two girls who were walking during mile 11 of a half marathon. It was a particularly tough route, and I remember pitying them because they’d given up, thinking to myself, “Jeez, girls…you’ve trained all this time for this, and you’re going to walk?”
And then, despite my pain, I suddenly began to laugh at myself, and it was the only time throughout that entire race that I cracked a genuine smile. Because I realized that although they were walking, they were walking at a pretty brisk clip and I could not pass them even though I was jogging. I was kind of doing one of those straight-up-and-down jogs where I was moving, per se, but I wasn’t really moving forward.
Have you ever tried to run a half marathon using a run-in-place strategy? It doesn’t work that well.
So I could pity them all I wanted for their chosen method in finishing a half marathon—but they were going to finish before me.
Still, I run a half marathon in an okay time; I usually finish between 2:10 and 2:15. And I’ve done enough of them to know that no matter how shitty I might feel at any late point in the race, I will run the whole way (however slowly), and I will finish.
It didn’t surprise me, then, that the week before my 8th half marathon, I was feeling pretty confident. It just so happened that it was one of those oddly social weeks, the likes of which a 38-year-old hardly has anymore; one of those weeks when a girl realizes that she has a ton of friends—probably more than she even really wants—and they all just happened to be really, really thirsty for beer on separate nights of the same week.
And who am I to say no to friends who are kind enough to ask me along for a drink or several?
Apparently I’m not. I’m not anyone to say no, because I enjoyed a few drinks several nights out of that week with several different groups of friends. I partied like I was 22 years old—and I’m not; like I said, I’m 38—and I hardly got any sleep, because on top of it all, I’m a night owl. The vicious cycle continued each morning when I would dehydrate myself further by chugging cup after cup of coffee in order to stay alert at work.
The race was out of town, so the night before, my husband and boys and I stayed with some friends who lived there. I was sipping my second Newcastle when my husband shot me a glance, his eyebrows raised in concern. “You have a race tomorrow…” he said.
I smirked. “Bitch, please,” I said. “It’s only 13 miles. People run 13 miles like every day.”
“You don’t run 13 miles every day,” my husband reminded me.
“Yeah, but I could,” I insisted. And then, a little more quietly, “Probably.”
When I finished my second beer and opened a third, my husband gave me that look again. “Shay,” he said, “you’re not going to enjoy running tomorrow. You’re going to be all dehydrated. I haven’t seen you drink any water lately…”
“I had a cup of water a few days ago,” I retorted. “Leave me alone, will you? I know what I’m doing.” I grimaced at him, slouching into my beer with my best bratty pose.
My husband shrugged, and I knew that I was going to work my phantom balls off the next day to make sure I got my best time ever in a half marathon—just to prove him wrong.
Except the next day came, and the race started, and immediately—like, from the moment my feet started moving—I felt like shit. My legs were heavy, my breath came out all raggedy, and I kept thinking that once I got over the beginning hump, once my body had hit mile 2 or 3 and was warmed up, it would get better.
But it never did.
I swear I almost called my husband at mile 9 (because I was totally running slowly enough to whip my phone out of its armband and dial him up) but even though I knew he would encourage me rather than say “I told you so” (He would save that for later, when I was finished and happy enough that I wasn’t dead that I could stand to hear it without punching him), I simply didn’t have the energy.
At that point, a friend who was also running the race but had decided to run it a bit more slowly than normal because of a hurt leg came running up beside me. I could tell from the happy little huffing I heard as he sidled up next to me that he was really enjoying the race—and it pissed me off.
“How’re you doing, Shay?” he asked, all smiles despite his gimp leg. I swear, if he’d had a ponytail, it would have been doing that cheerful bobbing thing at the back of his damn happy head.
“I’m awful,” I said, spitting out the words between gasps for air. “How many more miles do we have left?”
He looked down at his mile-counter watch—because he’s one of those. “A little more than 3 ½ miles,” he answered, chugging right along, all jaunty and shit.
“THREE AND A HALF MILES?!” I shouted, but since I couldn’t really breathe, it came out as more of a choked whisper. “Are you goddamned kidding me??”
Before he could answer, I found the strength to turn my head in his direction and add “DICK.” Somehow it made me feel better.
“Um, I’m just going to run on ahead,” he said quickly. “You cool?”
“Okay, see ya!” he shouted over his shoulder as he hurried off.
I finished the race—oh, I finished, alright. But not before breaking my own cardinal rule about walking. I had to walk about a mile of the race because I’d been so goddamned cocky during the days leading up to it, choosing dark, delicious Newcastles and no sleep over hydrating properly and heading to bed at a reasonable time.
When I crossed the finish line, my husband was waiting with a big bottle of water and a coffee from McDonald’s. I wanted to thank him but could only find the strength to hold up one sad, crooked little finger in the universal “just a minute” gesture as I stumbled past him, out of the way of other finishers, and leaned over to clutch at my knees while I tried to catch my breath. I knew I was a sight to see—a sweaty, red-faced, hungover wheezing mess to whom I’m surprised no first aide worker on the scene offered an inhaler.
“You were right,” I told him when I could breathe again. “You were right, hubs, and I was wrong. More water, less beer!”
I learned a lesson by eating that big old slice of humble pie. Actually, I learned three:
1.) You must always sign up for another half marathon after a bad one in order to cancel out the shitty memories. It’s race season, bitches, and there’s no season I enjoy more. I just signed up for my 9th; I’ll let you know how it goes.
2.) I don’t like humble pie. I hate humble pie. It’s gross.
3.) MORE WATER, LESS BEER. But only in the weeks leading up to a half marathon. Otherwise, more beer, less water is a ton of fun.
Sunday, September 27, 2015
On a piece of notebook paper, I’ve been keeping a running record of my younger son’s spiteful comebacks since he was 2-3 years old, and I finally decided to type them up and save them to file. He recently turned 4 and the threats continue, only getting better with age. His dad says he gets his spiteful streak from me—and you know what? I’ll take that as a compliment, because I only wish that I’d have come up with some of these myself.
There have been a couple of more recent ones that my son has come up with since his 4th birthday, but I really felt like they’d be better as posts of their own. I’ll be writing those up for a time in the near future, but until then, here are the ones that were good enough to write down from when he was 2 and 3.
As you read, preface each line with the way he always started out, which was, “Okay, you’re not gonna let me _____________?”
“…Then I’m gonna open your computer, and I’m gonna DO tuss to it.” [He had his threats downpat before his full grasp of language. “Tuss” was how he used to say “stuff.”]
“…Then I’m not doing the decorations!”
Me: “Christmas is over, buddy.”
Him: “Then I won’t do ANY decorations!”
“…Then I’m gonna make a loud noise, and you’re gonna be scared.”
“…Then I will pull another booger out and put it on your face.”
“…Then I’m not gonna eat NOTHING!”
Me: “Okay, then, I’ll just throw it all—"
Him, running back to the table: “NOOOOOOO!”
“…Then I’ll rip out the pages of your book.”
After recently having been potty trained: "…Then I will take my underwear off and put a diaper on.”
Him, arms crossed willfully over his chest: “…Then I’m not gonna talk to you NO MORE.”
“…Then I will tell Daddy you’re mean!”
Me: “Daddy already knows.”
“…Then I will make a big mess.”
“…If you do that, then I’m gonna take all of your toys and give them away.” [He may have heard me threaten that a time or two during particularly reluctant cleanup.]
Once, he wanted to eat lunch at preschool with friends instead of going to the babysitter’s, where I was taking him, and we were running really late. I was in a crunch to get to work on time, and he knew it and used that information to add some oomph to his threat: "…Then I will walk backwards and go reaaaaaaaally slow.”
“…Then I will cry.”
“…Then I’ll go AGGGHHHHHHHHH!”
One of my particular favorites, when we wouldn’t let him have a ring pop at Wal-Mart:
“…Then I will grab the bag, and I will start running, and I will go faster than you.”
Me: “HA! You think you can beat ME? You do remember that I got 1st place in my age group at my 5K this morning, and—"
My husband: “Oh, shit. Here we go with the 5K again.”
And finally, our all-time favorite (until he came up with the ones I’ll write about soon). This one included much arm-swooshing and widened eyes to get his point across. He had a vision to share, after all:
“…Then I’m gonna build a DANGEROUS house, and I’m not gonna make a door—so you can’t get out!”
You have to understand my household, peeps. My boys are very well behaved because, like I always tell them, there are consequences for their actions because I refuse to raise little brats who become big jerks.
And I will not take full credit for this because I believe that a lot of it has to do with the personality and temperament of a child, but in any case, neither of my boys (7 and 4) has ever thrown a temper tantrum or a screaming fit.
So damn, when my younger son has a little temper flare-up that, from start to finish, includes only a hilarious one-liner, then I’ll take it. Because two of my favorite things in life are my boys and humor, and when I get a dose of them combined, then man, life doesn’t get much better than that.
Thanks for indulging me!
Saturday, September 26, 2015
What does it say about me when I'm cleaning out my closets and drawers and pause for a moment, unsure, arm hovering over the Goodwill pile as I wonder if I should just throw away the shirt I'm holding instead, and then I think, "Well, maybe some really trashy, gross person will want to buy it..."
Nothing good, right? It doesn't say anything good about me or my sense of style from years past?
Nothing good, right? It doesn't say anything good about me or my sense of style from years past?
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Even though I prefer to squish my heavier emotions waaaaaaaay down deep into the pit of my stomach or make jokes about them rather than actually having to, like, feel them, every once in awhile, one of those little buggers will sneak right up on me in the least likely of places.
Over the past several months, my mom, dad, siblings, cousins, and aunt have been talking about how our beloved Grams’s mental health has been declining. I mentioned here how she has a blocked artery that seriously stems the flow of oxygen to her brain, making her forget things more and more rapidly on a daily basis. Doctors don’t want to operate because she’s 84 and it’s risky.
About three weeks ago, my boys and I were at my dad’s “vacation house,” which I love to say because it makes us sound old-money rich (which, as I’ve mentioned before, I learned from The Real Housewives of Australia is so much better than being one of those new-money rich pieces of trash) but is, in actuality, a house in the city that he got for a really good deal because we’re neither kind of rich.
My boys are in love with an old Superman bank, still in its original box and with its still-functioning original battery, that he keeps there. It has a button they can push that will make his cape fly behind him as he says, “I am the man of steel. I’m SUPERMAN. Up, up, and AWAY!”
It made us all giggle so hard to see the boys push that button again and again, and my dad remarked on how that bank keeps them occupied for hours every single time they come to visit.
“It’s because you’ve literally got no other toys here,” I said. “But it doesn’t matter, because it only makes Superman that much more special. It’s kind of like when we used to go to Grams’s house as kids and we played that Simon game for hours. We were happy as larks—what the fck is a lark, by the way?”
My dad and my husband shrugged. I continued.
“That’s how it was at Grams’s house. She kept so few toys for us there because she was obsessed with avoiding clutter. She had the ping-pong table and Simon, and we loved those so much that we begged to go back to her house every weekend.”
It was true. And the memory made me sad. Because my Grams has always been such a tough old bird, sharp as a damned tack, and now, because of a stupid clogged artery, she’s on a mental decline that we’re not sure is ever going to stop. The other day she asked my aunt “the name of that guy I was married to for a long time.”
My grandparents were married for over 50 years when my gramps passed away.
So anyway, it’s no surprise that even someone like me, who has perfected the art of cracking a joke to avoid feeling emotional, will let a tear or two slip like I did three weeks ago when talking about things like this with my husband and my dad. (I say "three weeks ago" like I'm such a hardcore badass on a motorcycle, but you guys, it happens all the fcking time. I'm a sap.)
And then, when we celebrated my son's birthday at my own house a week later (I swear this is relevant to the story), one of the moms came up to me and said, "Shay, I hope you don’t kill me, but we got your little guy kind of a loud, annoying game. My kids had no idea what it was, but I told them TRUST ME, his mom will know and I can promise you that even if he doesn’t like it, she will love it.”
Look what my son opened:
The mom had no idea about my grams’s house and the Simon game. She just assumed I would like the newly re-released gift because every child of the 70’s and 80’s did.
You guys. I started crying and I hugged the mom. We’re friends, so it wasn’t (that) awkward.
“I know I look bat shit fcking crazy right now, Shawna. I know I do,” I blubbered. “But you’ve got to understand the back story…” and I launched right into it for her.
By the end, she was crying, too.
“Dammit,” I sniffed to her, “as hard as I try not to be, I’m just a God person. And this game was a little gift from God, and you were the tool He used to send it to me.”
She wiped a tear from her face. “I’m so glad I got to be part of that good jolt for you, you crazy bitch,” she blubbered right back at me, and we both laughed.
Monday, September 21, 2015
I'm going to go ahead and choose to have a happy Monday--and, therefore, a great start to my week--by allowing myself to believe that it's the ill design of my generic Tupperware containers--and not my own fatness in packing too much--that has stripped my overstuffed lunch bag of its ability to be zipped.
Happy Monday, peeps!
I should be a goddamned motivational speaker.
Happy Monday, peeps!
I should be a goddamned motivational speaker.