Monday, February 11, 2013

Don't Mess with the Tooth Fairy

This is the letter I'd like to have the courage to give to the mother of the girl who shares our bus stop each morning.

Dear Kay's Mother,

Today while waiting for the bus, your 4th grade daughter Kay shared her opinions on the Tooth Fairy with my kindergartener and her older brother.

Kay was playing on her cell phone when Natalie proudly showed her the spot where her tooth used to be. Coincidentally, Kay also lost a tooth last night. When Natalie asked where it was (meaning where is the hole in her mouth), Kay, nonchalantly said it was on the bathroom counter because "everybody knows that the Tooth Fairy doesn't exist."

My heart sank. We have a good thing going here and I plan to hang onto the fun as long as I can. The Tooth Fairy (and all her magical friends) are childhood institutions and your kid almost blew it for mine.

My guess (based on other experiences with her) is that she didn't know any better. This is where YOU come in. 

Natalie looks up to Kay. Your daughter didn't even look up from her phone. There wasn't even the slightest indication from her that what she had just said so smugly and indiscriminately might have been a problem - in which case I would have sympathized. I've been known to have verbal diarrhea myself on numerous occasions. She didn't even flinch. Just so you know, since she didn't look up from her phone I rolled my eyes at her and gestured to my children that she's nuts.

As our children get older, they can decide what they want to believe about things. And I get it: Many a child has second-guessed their beliefs in magical beings due to comments made by an irresponsible older kid who takes it upon herself to educate the little one.

However, it is our job as parents to teach them that with this new knowledge comes responsibility and now they MUST think about how their comments might affect other children. Put plainly: Keep it a secret.

I know that you and I parent differently. It is not my concern what your child believes. I just want her to smile and keep her newly-toothless mouth shut.

The word "exist" threw Natalie off, but not her highly-intelligent brother who looked to me desperately. I told him that you take your daughter's Tooth Fairy money and put it in the bank so she doesn't argue.

If my son comes home tonight no longer believing in the Tooth Fairy, I will tell him how babies are made. It's a sacrifice I'm willing to make. Monday morning he will tell Kay. I will also tell him to throw in some tidbits about aliens and Cheez Whiz.



Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Stress of Being 9

Clearing out my Ryan's school folder this week, I found this odd drawing:

Puzzled, I stopped him as he walked into the room.

Me: "Ryan, what IS this?"

Ryan: "In Guidance today (yes, they have a scheduled class with the guidance counselor) we learned about stress and had to draw a picture of what stresses us out."

Me: "When do you ever get stressed out??? What is this?" as I pointed to the first picture.

Ryan: "It's when I have to wait to go to the bathroom."

Me: "What? Ryan, we have three bathrooms. You've never waited for the bathroom in your life."

Ryan: "Well I had to put something down and I couldn't think of anything else."

Me: "And what's this? Puking? Is that puke?

Ryan: "Yes."

Perhaps I should have asked him why he chose to draw himself throwing up straight onto the floor instead of the toilet. This has happened before. 

Me: "Well I'd have to agree with you there. That's an awful lot of puke. And this is when Justin steals your DS? Why did you draw your hair like that?"

Ryan: "That's not hair, that's a really cool hat." At this point he made his famous Dork Face and was blushing. Totally snagged him on accessorizing.

Me: "And this is what?"

Ryan:  "When I die playing Mario. I hate that."

And with that, I let the kid off the hook from explaining to his mother what was a half-assed, yet hilarious effort at doing his schoolwork.

I know I should be happy that he has no real agonizing stress in his life unlike his mother who used to work herself into a tizzy resulting in multiple trips to the bathroom whenever she had a test at school.

I'm pleased that he simply defaulted to bodily functions and video games, just like a healthy, well-adjusted 9-year-old boy who was too lazy to draw hair on himself and his brother. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Dear Ali

You probably saw the news yesterday that the writer known as "Dear Abby," Pauline Phillips died at the age of 94.

As legend goes: she was my 5th cousin. This should come as no surprise to anyone since everybody knows I love telling other people what to do, disguised as "advice" because it's much more palatable.

I read her column as a kid for several years before ever learning, via my grandmother, that I was related to her. "Abby's" mother was my great-grandmother, Ida May's 1st cousin's daughter. Let's just go with "Ali's 5th cousin, OK? I don't think even THEY ever met. This was a really fortunate thing for Abby, as my great-grandmother was not a very nice person from what I'm told (I edited that, what I originally wrote was just one word starting with a "B.") God rest her soul???

Abby's column and the column of her sister Ann Landers ran in my local paper right next to the funnies, which I read almost every day. As I got older, the funnies took less time to read so I read their columns afterward. I rarely understood the content of people's personal questions, but I was eager to read them anyway to see if I can learn some scoop about being a grown-up that my parents sheltered me from. I think what I really liked was the ridiculous aliases people gave themselves.

A few years ago, after starting my blog, my husband suggested naming my blog "Dear Ali" as a joke because every single time anyone mentioned "Dear Abby" I'd throw in the fact that I'm related to journalistic greatness.

On a whim and unwilling to spend one cent on, I sent out a Facebook message to my mother and her cousins to verify the legend. Once confirmed by a bunch of people who had simply heard the same story I had, none of which are genealogists it led into a colorful discussion about how Wikipedia sucks according to a 9-year-old, how the correct spellings of Russian last names are spelled with a "Y" and not an "I" or they'd be Polish and how my Great Aunt Harriette wrote them both several times and they never wrote back.

Most importantly, there was this little gem of a story from one of my second cousins (who shall remain nameless.) "Grandmom" is my great-grandmother in this story.

This discussion reminded me of a story that Grandmom and my mother always told. They went to a family reunion for Grandmom's mother's side of the family in Phillipsburg, PA, near Penn State, where she lived for some of her childhood before they moved to West Philly. A man came up to her and said hello Ida. She said hello, which cousin are you? He said I'm not your cousin, I'm your brother. One of the two long lost brothers, one was a kleptomaniac, I think the other was crazy too.

So there you have it:  I'm related to Dear Abby and a kleptomaniac (and I think bootleggers, but that has nothing to do with this story). Please tell me you didn't think I was going to say something profound...

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Number Between 12 and 14

A little-known fact about Ali: I'm extremely, weirdly, annoyingly superstitious.

I'm an avid knock-on-wooder, an under-ladder non-walker, I never step on a crack or dare open an umbrella inside and the time I broke a mirror I started to cry. I'd bet my husband doesn't even realize this. 

Therefore I think it goes without saying that the number 13 freaks me out. In fact, I'm a bit OCD about 13. I will cut up an extra piece of hot dog for the kids if I notice there are 13 pieces. I make sure the sink runs for 14 seconds, never just 13 (because I count everything like that in my head). If a receipe calls for my cookies to bake for 12-14 minutes...well, they just get crispy. Yes, I'm a whackadoodle. You knew this. 

So with that confession out of the way, I'll point out that we're nearly two weeks into 2013 and I still cringe a little bit writing the date on things. Not as badly as when it was June 6, 2006. I should have just stayed in bed all day. I might also add that I'm cringing because the only thing I've really written the year on so far have been a few checks and I hate paying for stuff. Everything should be free for me because I'm special.

2012 was just "meh" to be honest. It had it's share of unbelievable drama...believe me, but loads of happy and fun moments. So in all, the good kicked the bad's buttocks.

I'm proud to say that I made two New Year's resolutions and actually kept them. I kept them because they didn't involve any will power or self control. They were to read all seven Harry Potter books (I had read the first five and couldn't find time to move on once I had Justin - that jerk) and the other was to watch the entire series of LOST from beginning to end (I had watched religiously until Natalie was born and I had to give it up cold turkey), which I did from August to November LIKE A CHAMP!

You might notice a pattern: Ali liked things. Ali had interests. Ali had kids and they screwed it up. Ali finally got back to liking things after 4 years.

So to YOU, year 2013 MMXIII if I want to get all fancy. Go easy on me.

This year's resolutions:
  • Fix my blog header so I don't look like such a slacker.
  • Curse less (see my reference to "buttocks" above. I did some editing)
  • Teach my husband to use my camera so there are actually pictures of ME this year.
  • Start making my kids do chores because they're getting too spoiled and this house is a pigsty.
  • Tone my flabby upper arms. Just ewwww. 
  • Revive my blog because I miss it.

Wishing you all a very prosperous MMXIII - This is a good solution to my problem. These are letters, not numbers.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Evolution of Bratty Natty

We're getting to the point where life here is simply "easier" than it used to be. It's less frantic and honestly more enjoyable.

We had a few rough years for a while, popping out our third kid when the oldest was just turning five. That's a lot of little kids to have at one time. The biggest wrench in the works (other than an unexpected #3) was Natalie's..."personality." Sweet baby Jesus, that child really tested my patience.

Luckily for the entire human race, whatever got her diaper in a bunch ran its course. We're past that now at least until she becomes a teenager, but those dark days still come up in conversation. Nobody who has recently met my daughter can believe that this mild mannered, shy little girl could have ever been a holy terror. "What? Natalie? She's the sweetest thing ever! How bad could she possibly have been?"

It's not something that I've ever really been able to accurately articulate. She just WAS. And although 99% of the exact details of constant crying, whining and trouble-making have been forgotten, the nicknames "Spawn of Satan," "Demon Seed" and "Bratty Natty" were warranted. I promise.

I was going through some old photos when it finally hit me: The story of Natalie's early years isn't one you have to HEAR. It's one you have to SEE.

So with that, I offer you thee picture. This one single photo perfectly sums up the first two years of her life. Look at the angst on her face. Can't you just hear the grunting, whining sound she was making? Are your ears bleeding?

She was always pissed off and wanted something...anything...we just hardly ever knew what it was. In this case it was the camera. But in the event that you don't believe me here are some more. And this is literally just six weeks worth. 

What a delight!