Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Fifty-Seventh Happiest Place On Earth (Approximately)

Last weekend, my Groom excitedly escorted me to his thirty year high school reunion. Here is where I pause, so as to recover from the multiple mind-blowing facts packed into that declarative sentence.

Anyway, we don't get out much these days. So preparing for this momentous evening entailed many wardrobe changes, hair adjustments, makeup applications, and checking of the profile in the mirror accompanied by the traditional sucking-in-of-the-stomach. Me, I just threw on some jeans and hung out on Facebook until he was ready. I kid!

(This is pretty dicey territory, you know. My Groom is generally not too thrilled about blogness featuring, well, him. But in fairness, he pretty much knew five minutes into the reunion that he would wind up here.)

We both cleaned up pretty thoroughly and put on something nice and drove for what felt like three and a half days to meet up with all of his old football buddies. I am not at all kidding when I tell you that my Groom was giddy with anticipation.

The reunion was held in the dingy back room of a dingy restaurant which probably should have given up about a decade ago, judging by the decor. Apparently, this is where all of the reunions have been held. The deterioration was painfully obvious even to those of us who had never been there before. And I haven't even gotten to the attendees yet. We were greeted in the dark parking lot by a woman and her husband out grabbing a last minute smoke before heading in to "face the music" as she put it. She immediately recognized my Groom. Sadly, he did not recognize her. Inside the lobby/pizza buffet area, we collected our name tags and a stapled alumni directory. On the directory cover we were pronounced "Blue and White Sponsors" of the reunion. My Groom confessed that he had "added a little extra" to the ticket charge to help with the exorbitant cost of putting on the event. My Groom is especially fond of attracting appreciation in an understated manner. I love this about him, partly because it often lends itself to comic moments of revealed naivety about what other people value. Like high school reunions, for instance.

Out of a graduating class of about three hundred, twenty-four made an appearance. I would say the overriding theme of the night for most of those present was Closure. Football buddies? Not so much. Mostly people to whom football players did not give the time of day. Just about everyone remembered my Groom. My Groom, however, recalled about five of them. Heads of hair? Also not so much. Plenty of big, round bellies, though. And lots and lots of Old. Old as far as the eye could see, which wasn't all that far since everyone kept reaching for their reading glasses and grumbling about the name tag font being too small.

Thankfully, one and all remembered my Groom as being a kind person. This helped when it came time to find a place to sit for dinner. We selected a table full of strangers (they were all tables full of strangers) and passed an enjoyable hour or so sharing a dinner of lukewarm Italian food and stories of Where We Are Now with three lovely couples whose names I never caught. My Groom's Blue and White Sponsor money helped provide all present with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert.

After dinner, someone produced a camera and corralled the twenty-three strangers plus my Groom to pose for a group picture. It didn't look right at all. It looked like my tall, full head of hair Groom standing in a crowd of amiable senior citizens. That was about all the reuniting he could take at that point, so we hugged a few strangers and left.

It's been an interesting few days watching my Groom absorb the lessons of this night. Lessons like not everyone found high school to be a glorious experience. And even if it was a glorious experience, people may not show up because life has not continued to be quite so glorious for them. And twenty-five dollars doesn't buy what it used to, such as chocolate sauce for the ice cream.

Anyway, it was a lovely evening and a nice way to wrap up a week away at Disney World with the Tornadoes. There is really nothing to say about our trip to Disney World. It went exactly the way such a trip is manufactured to go, and now we own headbands with mouse ears on them. And now, we are on to Christmas.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Only Sixteen Hundred Fifty-Six More Days

Eighth grader is taxing the limits of my Motherosity, let me tell you. Taxing it like a gainfully employed middle class American. Like cigarettes in New York City. If this kid pushes down any harder on my buttons today, I might burst into a live reenactment of Willy Wonka's elevator.

Motherosity is the word I use to describe the otherwise indescribable package of skills and characteristics required to raise decent children without dosing them daily with Benadryl. Patience, understanding, love, discipline, ability to multi-task...these are terms for amateur gardeners. Motherosity is a special brand of fierceness married to tenderness having an illicit affair with omniscience in regard to your child's whereabouts, doings and needs: Some days, all are content with their lot and life carries on. Other days, it's a hot mess.

Guess which day today is.

Today, for starters, is Monday. Monday is the day that comes after the weekend is over - hence, "weekend", signifying the end of the previous week - and thus most people regard as the time to get back to business. For eighth grader, this translates to Go To School and Then Come Home and Do Your Homework and Clean Your Room. How many Mondays have I said this now? Monday is a day when Sixth Grader has multiple activities to be shuttled off to attend, thereby rendering Eighth Grader alone for a brief period of time during which she could easily demonstrate to me how marvelously mature and ready she is for the TV she wants in her room and the laptop she wants for Christmas. How? Come Home and Do Your Homework and Clean Your Room. That's twice just this evening alone that I have spelled it out, and I bet you got it the first time.

Imagine for a moment that you are Eighth Grader. You have been in middle school for approximately fifty-one Mondays now, and with few exceptions the instructions on Mondays have sounded exactly the same. And the instructions are what again?

Go to school. Come home. Do your homework. Clean your room.

Imagine further that on Friday night, you went to a nine-thirty movie with your friends and then slept over one of those friend's houses. Imagine that on Saturday, you had several of your friends over your own house and, although you were instructed that said friends must go home at ten, you did not communicate this to said friends UNTIL ten, thereby postponing their ride-getting ability by an additional half hour. Step out on the imagining branch one more length and dress up in your Halloween costume, go trick-or-treating with your pack o' friends sans parents and then unexpectedly bring your entire pack-o'-friends home with you, on Sunday night as your mother is putting dinner on the table, and liberally spread them and their candy and their discarded costumes around the kitchen and family room, triggering the "must feed children" mechanism of the Motherosity so that the family's dinner for four is made to now feed nine, five of whom again don't seem to have any immediate plans to go home. (I will not bore you with the tedium that is Why Trick-or -Treating in November. I'm just grateful that it's over.)

Remember. You are in Eighth Grade. When I was in eighth grade, there was no way I would have been able to pack that much friend time into one weekend. Weekends belonged to my seventy hour a week working father, and most of them were dead silent except for his window rattling snoring on the living room couch. But this is not that childhood. Motherosity inflation has occurred such that the "I want your friends to hang out here so I can get to know them" mechanism has been activated and occasionally belched smoke from overuse. Fine. So, fun weekend. And now it's Monday. And what do we do on Monday?

Apparently, we go to the coffee shop with our friends after school and have the audacity to text our mother asking if she can bring us money. When our mother doesn't reply and we still have no money, apparently we then bring all of our friends home with us and assume they can "hang out". When my Groom, who was delegated shuttle-arounder of Sixth Grader today, firmly nixes this "hanging out," we place an angry call to our mother at work and proceed to have a screaming match with my Groom for my helpless enjoyment. We rile things up so severely that we induce Sixth Grader to tearfully join in, because the only thing that Sixth Grader ever wants is for everyone to be happy and get along perfectly. We finally acknowledge that our mother is on the phone with us and undoubtedly we hear her say "everyone must leave right now, go and clean your room.". Undoubtedly we hear this.

When our mother arrives home roughly an hour later, where are we? Are we cleaning our room? No. We are HANGING AROUND on the front steps outside WITH OUR FRIENDS because they are WAITING FOR THEIR RIDES. Which it seems they are calling for at this present moment. For the first time.

I wish I could say that bestowing the gift of "You're grounded" gave me some sense of satisfaction, some payoff for being the adult here. But really, without the Benadryl option, grounding is just a major pain in the ass. More monitoring, days of being looked at with scowling incredulity that she is really and truly grounded, and at the end of it, the blank response of an unremorseful teenager who does not get that someday her kids are going to put her through these same headaches and then, finally, she will get it and appreciate my Motherosity.

I consoled myself by counting up roughly how many more days until I move this child out of my house and into a college dorm. Preferably one that is close enough for her to come home on weekends for a home-cooked meal, but that requires her, on Mondays, to be back at school and off my watch.