Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Kitten Has Left The Building

I've devoted a fair amount of energy to mall avoidance in recent years.

Given that I enslaved myself to these beasts, in one form or another, for most of my teens and twenties, mall avoidance is how I imagine detox might be. Its grip on me was fierce. In fact, I could sketch you a two decade mall directory history on an Orange Julius napkin right now, including pre- and post-upgraded Food Court AND all store spaces that were once occupied by Rave. (That store has gotten around, if you know what I mean.)

Okay, I shouldn't be proud of that. I know. Which is why I have practiced hardcore mall avoidance ever since the tornadoes outgrew strollers and I tired of fetching them from the Filene's security office when they went missing. I swear, that only happened twice.

Black Friday notwithstanding, the Mall is a transactional stop. My hairdresser is there. My nail salon is there. I park close to said maintenance shop and point my eyes straight ahead. Other than that, and the occasional Macy's visit (requiring no contact with other stores), I kicked the habit.

Enter budding tween and her aspiring little sister, mix with the dastardly Limited Too, throw in a pair of Claire's stores... see Tress falling off the kiosk, so to speak.

Yes, I've been in those parts quite a bit lately - mainly in the dastardly Limited Too, holding the Cinnabon, exercising my veto powers.

It's dastardly, by the way, because everything in there is so freaking cute, and I love that my girls can be so girly, and I want to buy them everything (can you say "vicarious"?). But I must be strong and draw the line of appropriateness. Vetoing is my job.

And sadly, this also applies to me, in ways I did not see coming.

The mall has turned against me. It has completely sidestepped the aging process. Which means it is no longer possible for me to shop there.

The size that I have managed to maintain for twenty years - the one that I still buy in Macy's, thank you very much - does not correlate to...oh, say, any store that does not sell business suits. This I learned while trying to wedge myself into a pair of capris in the dressing room of a certain hip-yet-evil American Eagle. (And I only held the Cinnabon. Really.) Also not welcoming were the adorable halter tops that Second Grader picked out for me. The ones that looked just like the halter tops in Limited Too, but "for old people" she said. So "old people" are apparently sixteen.

We won't even talk about shorts.

American Eagle and friends: veto.

Also out is mall snacking of any kind. Once upon a time, ninety-nine percent of my sustenance came from that salt factory. Now I sneak two or three sips of Twornado's six-dollar fruit smoothie, the closest thing to nutritious food, and I'm done. Anything more than that, I need a nap.

Food Court: veto.

Which leaves me back outside the dastardly dressing room, scrutinizing tank top coverage on eight-year-old girls. Holding the Cinnabon.

I relayed my Evil Eagle Encounter to a certain fellow this weekend, admittedly looking for an ego boost. I received a most interesting response. A response I hadn't considered before. A response I didn't see coming.

"Maybe," said this fellow, "you are becoming a Cougar."

Maybe I am becoming a Cougar.

And the fellow, he did not get a veto.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Twornado, Please Stop Whining

Said the mother in a screechy internal voice.

Moments after forking over credit card number to friendly stylist.

To order hair extensions for Twornado. Which are pink.

Twornado is getting pink hair extensions for the summer. Not her whole head. Just a few. For fun.

They will please her. And are removeable. And do not require hole punching.

This concludes our Twornado Alert. Carry on.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

This Is A Test. And So Is This. And So Is This.

It's graduation season, and so it seems only right that someone in my family should graduate from something.

So I have decided to promote Fourth Grader. Henceforth, she will be known as Twornado.

To commemorate this occasion, I have devised the Twornado Alert System. Others may use this Alert System to determine the presence of twornadoes in their own immediate vicinity.

Take cover if you experience the following twornado behaviors:

Child wants a cell phone. Child wants a camcorder. Child wants more holes punched in her ears. Child wants highlights in her hair.

Child wants and wants and wants.

Child cries if you ask her to repeat herself. Child cries if you say no or maybe or not now. Child cries if you make a joke. Child cries if you say hello.

Child cries and cries and cries.

Child sticks to you like velcro. All the time. Except when she storms away and slams her bedroom door.

People warn you about teenagers. Oh, they warn you all the time. "Just wait until she's a teenager," they say. "High drama!"

To which I say, Then what do you call this?

I'll tell you what you call it. You call it the purgatory of parenting. You call it the Phase Of Which No One Has Spoken. You call it TWEEN. It is real. And it makes a rattling sound.

Don't get me wrong. I love my Twornado. I do. She has many redeeming qualities. She also has about a thousand days to go until she attains an age containing "teen", and I really hope she makes it. But if I'm going to make it, I have to set small goals. So I have set two:

One is to make it through the long weekend. That's three unstructured days of wanting and crying. I will make it through with the help of a moderate quantity of liquor. For me, not for twornado, of course.

The other is to speak the truth of TWEEN. The silence must be broken so that others may prepare without fear. Also, so that I do not go completely over the edge due to bottling it up inside. Mostly that, actually.

I will add new warning signs to the Twornado Alert System as they become known. Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Sitch In the...Kitch...With the..Twitch...!!!

Landed myself a spring cold this week. Missed a little work. Stayed in bed.

There's only so much a person can sleep. Also, no torture exists more painful than daytime television. This leaves reading. (It probably leaves other options, too, but who's writing this?)

I happen to be "between books" at the moment, so I crawled the floor of Fourth Grader's room yesterday morning in search of reading material. Came up with tween magazines.

Ah, tween magazines. If you have not recently indulged in them, they are a feast. They consist of little more than made-up words and exclamation points. Not to mention helpful advice from bazillionaire pop stars, who are precisely the wise and experienced people from whom my ten-year-old should be learning how to handle life.

Say she wanted to know, for instance, How to deal with boys. Why not ask Pop Star A, who once had total trubs figuring this out?

LUCKILY, dating guys like the Jonas Brothers has given Pop Star A a new confidence!

What a perfect solution! Anybody have their phone number? For my ten-year-old? Wait, she doesn't like boys yet. (!)

Never mind. Boys can give a girl the blues. Just ask Pop Star B!

Between her photo scandal and her ups and downs with Boy Pop Star C, she's def had a few rocky months! Unfortch for her, she can't always find true friends to confide in.

To whom, then does she turn?

To her mom, natch!

...Actually, I think I'm okay with that one. OK, Pop Star B, good answer. But lay off the photo scandals, 'k?

It's the exclamation points that got to me, really.

"How do you two get along?"
"We talk every once in a while!"

"What was it like to kiss Boy B?"
"We both popped a breath mint!"

Good lord, it made me tired. Plus, I'm apparently eating tic tacs with way too little enthusiasm, so I'll have to work on that now. It's always something.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Because You Want To Know

My name is Tress and it's been five days since my last post...

Sorry, a little lapsed Catholic oozed out there. It happens sometimes. Much like the occasional smattering of French, though I'm not French in the least. Eleven years of study will do that to a person. Some of it sticks.

Now you're asking: Why eleven years? Why not twelve?

Because I didn't get to go to Paris, that's why. Because my eleventh grade class went to Paris without me and didn't even bring me back a croissant. So senior year I rebelled. I dropped French and took pre-calculus instead.

Woah, you're saying. Wild Child.

Yes, I know, as rebellions go that one was pretty pathetic. Most of my rebellions were pathetic and hurt only myself. In this case, I traded in my French A for a Mathematic C-on-the-verge-of-D. And I still haven't been to Paris.

By now I'm sure you are asking: Why is she rambling on about this nonsense?

I don't really have an answer for that. Other than it's the Saturday after a crazy week of working, tornado-chauffering, School-Board-meeting-attending, and lawn humiliation, all of which contain ample posting material, but this is what came out instead, okay?


On the subject of lawn humiliation, though, just to end the suspense - Did she get a new service? Did she seed the "lawn"? Did she pave it all over? - and I only address this again because I am looking out the window right now (because my desk is upstairs and positioned so that I can look out the window and across the street at my neighbor's lawn, which looks like Ireland, instead of straight down at my own, which looks like it's just missing a few old cars up on blocks), just to satisfy curiosity, I will tell you.

I hired someone. I thought about the situation for a few days, and then I called my One Man Landscaping Service and asked him to seed my lawn.

So he said he'd be out in "about a week." Experience tells me that in about a week I'll have to call him again, but hey. Phone calls are my specialty.

Monday, May 5, 2008

What Did I Tell You?

I may have mentioned a few dozen times already that I live in the woods.

What I have not mentioned is that my particular woods - my town, that is - require a five acre minimum for new homes. And of course when I moved here I built a new home. Because why not? EVERYBODY was doing it!

Thus I not only live in the woods but am situated on a pretty big hunk of land. If I had any brains at all, I would have selected a hunk of land completely out of sight of any other human beings. Mais non. My hunk of land is surrounded by other hunks of land owned by people who actually know how to take care of hunks of land.

To put this all together for you, I have no clue how to do anything remotely outdoorsy. I have never successfully grown anything. Actually that's not true - I did sustain a potted basil plant once for a whole month before I got bored with it and left it to die a painful scorching death in the August sun.

One time I tried to operate a lawn mower. That went so well that within a week I gave my lawn mower away and hired a service. I've also tried to construct and plant my own flower beds. Fortunately, there is a service for this as well.

What I am getting pretty good at is hiring other people to do my outdoorsy stuff, but this is a vicious circle. Services require money. Money requires working. If I wasn't working so much, maybe I could do my own outdoorsy stuff - but who am I kidding?

Once the snow finally melted, it became painfully clear that I would be further honing my hiring skills, starting with a lawn revival service. Most people would call this fertilizing. Unless grubs and crabgrass need to be fertilized, I am going to call it lawn revival. Because I basically have no lawn left.

So a few weeks ago I went through the motions of calling various services, gathering quotes, blah blah blah, knowing full well I was going straight to a name brand operation with this one because I do not have time to mess around with Joe's One Man Grass Growing, Inc., I am busy, people, and there is serious damage here.

Naturally, the name brand outfit didn't even see the need to come out and assess things first, so confident are they in their ability to grow lush Fields of Dreams. The whole service plan was designed in about ten minutes. Sight unseen, Mr. Field of Dreams concluded that I had a mole problem -which I don't - but there was no convincing him as he serenely dictated some tabasco sauce-based remedy that I tried to make it sound like I was writing down. Also I pretended to take some instruction about buying and spreading grass seed on the "bare patches" prior to my first "treatment." As if. The whole lawn is a bare patch, brainiac. At least until the weeds come in.

Today when I came home I saw the little Field of Dreams flag poked into the yard. My first treatment! Hanging on the front door was the note they promised to always leave me to communicate their "findings". Here's what my note says:

"Your lawn is almost entirely weeds and crabgrass."


Saturday, May 3, 2008

Live From My Hiding Place, It's Saturday Night!

It's 8:00 p.m. and I am bored out of my head.

That is probably the dumbest statement I have ever made. Just having written it means that any minute now there will be some kind of tornado explosion downstairs, thus ending my boredom. Given that we have an extra "guest" tornado this evening, I'm surprised it hasn't happened already.

Which brings me to my topic du jour: friends of the children.

Now just calm down, I'm not about to skewer anybody else's kids. I have some boundaries. Really, I have a question to ask, which is this: Is it really best to be The House Where the Kids Hang Out? Because practically every parent that I have asked this of in person has answered with an unhesitating "Oh, absolutely!" And I have to say: really?

Because I was thinking I could catch up on my TiVo tonight, maybe over a glass of wine or two, while the kids played a quiet game of backgammon at the kitchen table, or read the Bible to each other or something.

Instead, I am up here in my room, recovering from the fumes of their spilled nail polish remover (result of the obligatory sleepover makeovers), my feet vibrating from the beat of the music downstairs (the obligatory sleepover dance-off), with no television and no wine. I suppose I could go get the wine, but I always wonder about the appropriateness of wine when we have guest tornadoes. But it probably won't prevent me from getting the wine.

I always end up unwittingly surrendering three-quarters of the house to the tornadoes when they have friends over. And it's not like I don't hang out with them at all - please, let's not sound that alarm. If tornadoes were moths, then I have been a big old fiery beacon since noontime. I amazed them with my coolness - singing along to their music and getting all the words right, kicking their butts at "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader" (turns out I am, HA!), serving up the Best Snacks That Don't Involve Cheese Ever. Your standard "I love coming to your house" guest fare.

Right up until I hit the wall an hour or so ago and wanted to shrink into the tiniest space imaginable, lest they find me.

And now it appears from the shrill cries in the distance that the explosion has begun. Something about the kitten being stuck somewhere - no doubt the kitten is also trying to become invisible, but never mind. I have to get the wine, anyway.