The Baby is somewhat of a video game connoisseur. Oh hell, he is a full blown addict at the ripe old age of 8. He is the only one of the three who made it to that category, so I guess I did okay. Anyway, that is not the point. He knows everything there is to know about every video anything ever made-from Pong to XBox One. He likes to discuss these things. I do not. He likes to ask me about the Atari 400 my brother and I had, and what games we had….I do not remember anything other than Ms. Pacman, Frogger, Space Invaders, and a game called “Music Composer” that allowed me to write music. My brother, Eli, and I did not play video games all that much. We played outside. We played in the creek behind our house. We played “Cowboys and Indians”–sorry if that is un-PC, but that is what we called it. We rode our bicycles. I roller skated with my girlfriends. I can remember saving my babysitting money to buy boot skates with metal wheels for $12.99. That’s how I broke my wrist in 5th grade-roller skating down the big hill in front of our house on Forest Lane. We stayed gone on our bicycles until the sun went down and we could hear Mothah calling us from the back door…”JENNIFAH….ELI….COME ON HOME” ….Such a thing of the past that is. As a teenager, I lived on a farm. We did not have central air. The ceilings were high and we had fans in the windows. My youngest stepsister and I did things during the summer like “go on safari”…this consisted of us chasing feral cats around behind the garage, trying to catch them….fun that lasted for hours and hours on end. It never got boring! As we got older, we would mix us up a thermos of Tia Maria, stolen from the parents liquor cabinet, and Diet Coke (liquor connoisseurs that we were) ….and drive the “dog truck” all over the farm. The dog truck had a contraption on the back for my stepfather’s hunting dogs. While this was illegal entertainment, it was creative nonetheless. One summer, our cousin came to work with us on the farm. We would work in the morning, have a big lunch, then we would be so worn out, we would go lie down in my room and listen to Mothah’s old Tiny Tim albums and laugh our asses off for an hour. Those were the days. We required no screens. We required no entertainment from adults. We created our own entertainment (albeit some of it was illegal, it was not like we were driving on actual roads!) I feel sorry for my own kids sometimes. Don’t start leaving me comments like “take their screens away and they will gain an imagination”….I don’t need to hear that sage advice, but thanks. I do actually take The Baby’s iPad away, and he polices himself with his games-taking days off at a time. He actually listens to his pediatrician! We live in a different world today. Mini Me and The Middle Child both have phones. iPhones. And the reason is this: I want to be able to get in touch with them whenever I want to. Wherever they are. I frequently hear people say, “we survived without cell phones”….and I have said it myself. Yes, we did survive without them. But the truth is this: while I may long for the days of yore, that shit bit the dust a long time ago. Technology has grown up and continues to grow. And so must I. I will always have my memories of chasing feral cats and drunk driving on the farm…..and for me, that will be enough.
I am completely enamored with the fact that I am writing this at 37, some odd thousand feet in the air, aboard American Airlines Flight 2405 to Antigua. Even at the age of 45, that I can write and publish a blog post, mid-air, shall never fail to impress me, thus proving to all the world that no, I do not get out much at all! Today is our 20th wedding anniversary. 20 Years. T.W.E.N.T.Y. 20. 10 plus 10. 5 plus 5 plus 5 plus 5 more. Honestly, there were times when I was quite sure we would not make it this far, but today, I cannot, for the life of me, remember why I ever would have had that thought cross my mind even once. Today, as I sit on an airplane, beside JC, with no children, no phones ringing, no carpools, not a care in the world for the next 5 days….of course today I wonder why I ever let that thought ever cross my mind! (I actually laugh out loud) If I sit here and think about it, we have weathered a hell of a lot. But really, are there any couples who have been together this long who haven’t? We haven’t weathered the same storms, maybe, but we have all weathered storms just the same. This is our first real, all-out vacation that has nothing to do with work, nothing to do with a wedding, and sans children. So what am I doing? Writing about the children. This week was filled with last minute things that absolutely had to be taken care of before we left town. Mini Me’s locker has to be decorated today–a Senior tradition at his school. It’s also a surprise. I called Mothah to see if she could take care of it, but she had already committed to work at The Mart after taking The Baby to school. Damnation! My mother-in-law was working. I could ask my father-in-law, but God love him, there was no way in hell I was going to give the most important task of decorating a Senior locker to A MAN. I knew just who to call, though I hated to call her because I knew she was equally as swamped as I was, but I did it anyway: Mini Me’s mother-in-law. Of course she isn’t really his mother-in-law! Mini Me and her daughter have been dating for a year and a half. Mary said she would be glad to help me out, and I was most appreciative. I got to work, going through some pictures on Facebook. That is when I happened upon a random post about a young friend’s son losing his first tooth, and let me preface ALL of this by saying that I adore this young mother and her kids, and this blog post is not in any way, shape or form meant to be mean! I can’t even remember now exactly what the post said, but I think it said something about how appalling she found it that some kids get $20 from the Tooth Fairy. Welllllll…….I felt my face start to heat up….because, as you probably can imagine, the Tooth Fairy has left a $20 at my house more than once, and $10 more times than I care to remember! I see nothing wrong with these options. Frankly, my dears, I think it’s nobody else’s damn business how much money the Tooth Fairy leaves at my house or at your house or at the house down the street. I will admit that the Tooth Fairy has actually FORGOTTEN to come to my house MORE THAN ONCE, and that, my friends, THAT makes me feel like shit, sooooo, here is the dealio: if the Tooth Fairy is due at my house and I only have a $20 or a $10, and circumstances prevent me from going to get change, such as A: It is 10:00pm and I just remembered that said Tooth Fairy is coming; or B: It is January, JC is traveling, nobody is over the age of 9 but me, it’s 30 degrees outside, and after 8:00pm; or C: I simply do not feel like it…..then, my kids may get what others feel is not an appropriate amount of money for a tooth. And guess what? Frankly my dears, I don’t give a rat’s ass! So anyway, if I could just keep my big mouth shut, everything would be F.I.N.E., but that is becoming a bit of a problem the older I get. So……knowing better, I left a comment. Then, I felt the need to leave another comment–explaining myself, and I added a laughing, crying emoji thingy–to make it more like I was joking around and all. But dammit, I was not joking! I started thinking about how when Mini Me was born, I was going to do everything just exactly right—by the book. By what book? Certainly not Dr. Spock! I have done every single thing I said I would not do, and then some. I really think this young do-it-by-the book-generation really think they are doing this parenting thing so much better than those of us who have parented before them! Let me just stop here and ask, just what damn book is it that they are reading? I bet they have a secret book club and they are actually writing the book themselves….it’s probably called, “How to Parent Better Than We Think Our Parents Parented Us” or maybe “How We Think the Best Parents on the Planet Should Parent”….They are going to give Junior a quarter for his first tooth and call it a day. I am going to call bullshit on that one! Honey, my kids knew about inflation when they started losing their teeth, and remember…..Mini Me is almost 18! Are you fucking kidding me? There was no way we were getting away with giving that kid a quarter, or for that matter, a dollar! Even that was too cheap! My kids did not want to go to the Dollar Tree and buy any junk. They are no fools, I tell you! I thought long and hard about my parenting that day. I have been farrrrr from perfect. Like I said before, I have done every single thing I said I would not do, and then some–a thousand times over!!! Why? You may ask… Mostly, for some fucking peace and quiet! Why else?????? If you are NOT a parent, then you do NOT understand, and do NOT even pretend to TRY because you CANNOT! How have I failed? Let me counteth the ways……I have let them eat ice cream for dinner. Why? Well, why not? Because sometimes I would rather have ice cream for dinner, too! I have let them go to bed without a bath….sometimes several days in a row….Why? Well, because sometimes the fight is just not worth it! AND, a little dirt never hurt! I have let them go to bed without brushing their teeth. Why? Because sometimes I cannot bear to hear the whining and complaining! Of course I tell them that their teeth are going to turn green and black and rot and fall out–that’s some fine parenting there, too! I have let them sleep in their dirty clothes! Why? Because they fell asleep in them and it was too much trouble to change them into pajamas! I have let them go into the store BAREFOOTED! Why? Because I DID IT AS A KID, and I loved having “grocery store feet”! If you don’t know what “grocery store feet” are, then you aren’t lucky enough to and I’m not going to enlighten you. Guess what else? Mini Me slept with us until he was 3 and The Baby slept with us until he was almost 7. Let’s see….since this is a post of “true confessions”…..I have given The Baby his pacifier off of a public floor without washing it off–only wiping it on my pants or shirt. God Forbid. I nursed The Middle Child, out of her carseat, in the middle of the night, while we were going down a deserted highway in Texas–no, I was not driving! I used to let Mini Me drive Mothah’s car on the farm from the time he was about 8. I bribe all three of my children on a regular basis with money and material things for various reasons. I’m pretty sure that at least Mini Me has ridden on the back of my Daddy’s motorcycle. Here’s a big one: Mini Me has shot BB Guns. Yep. BB Guns. And, I cannot wait to go to my Daddy’s farm this summer so we can all shoot some BB Guns. So there you have it–and I am quite sure that those are just a handful of my parenting sins. As for the damn Tooth Fairy, she and I have a very personal relationship. If my kid tells you that she left him a $20 or a $10, there is a reason. The reason may not be a good one in your book, but remember–these are my kids, my book, my Tooth Fairy.
I have learned, over the past almost 18 years of parenting, to do what works for moi. There is NO book, NO manual. These little suckers come out and NONE of us knows what the right thing to do is! We are all just winging it. I try really hard not to judge other mothers, though I know I’m not perfect at that either. Hell, I’m perfect at nada… nada damn thing. My kids are all three turning out pretty damn great, if I do say so myself….in spite of having me for a mother 😉 I will never get “Mother of the Year”, and frankly, my dears, I don’t give a rat’s ass. I’m having wayyyyyy too much fun doing it wrong 😉
On Friday, the dreaded (only to me) cap and gown came home with Mini Me. It is the gorgeous shade of purple that is his school color. When he got it out of the bag, I audibly burst into tears. “OH MY GOD, MOM! If you are going to do that, then you cannot hold it!” he said. Then he made a quick move and I thought he was about to stomp out of the room, as he is prone to do. Instead, the quick move was to grab me and hug me, which turned my quick tears into sobs. “It’s going to be okay”, he said. ” I know”, I said–or at least that’s what I was trying to say. I have tears streaming down my face as I am writing this now…. I got myself together, as we had to move on to other things. Our wonderful school, Dekalb School of the Arts, was having Fringe Festival! This is when all of the performing groups put on small performances for everyone to see. We went to see The Middle Child perform in the choral performance on Friday night, and then I went to see Yacht Rock Review do a Prince Tribute with my friends at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. I wish I had actually worn the damn cap and gown, as a couple of my friends had suggested, because everyone had on purple! On Saturday, we got up early. The Baby had a soccer game–right smack dab in the middle of The Middle Child’s Thespian Show, of course. JC took The Middle Child to school and got the rest of us Starbuck’s and came home. Mini Me and I got ready and got ourselves to the school to see The Middle Child perform. She was fabulous. I was so proud of her. She is a vocal major and drama minor at DSA and is in 8th grade. The drama teacher told her recently how proud the staff is of her for auditioning for so many things this year, and how 8th graders don’t normally do that. She had entered a painting in the art show the night before, and it was selected–and she is not even an art student! I am so proud of her for going right in there and making a name for herself from the get-go. SO…Mini Me and I watched the fabulous Thespian Show and then Mini Me took my car to go pick up his drummer. Mini Me met his drummer at Berklee College of Music last summer when he was there for the Five Week Summer Program. They have stayed in contact since then, and Chris (the drummer), doesn’t live terribly far from us. Nathanael was playing the keyboard. He also goes to DSA, Mini Me has known him since kindergarten! This was the first time the three of them had ever played together, and they were going to play on the big stage right in front of the school at 2:30. I wandered around and chatted and ate some junk I did not need to eat, and watched some other great performances until it was time for me to set up my chair for the show. Of course, clouds were rolling in. I got all set up. JC and The Baby got there. MiMa and PaPa were there. Big, hard rain drops started to fall and the wind was blowing. We had to move inside. I thought this was par for the course. We moved inside. I figured Mini Me just wouldn’t get to play and I was trying to be okay with that. I was chatting with a friend, when Mini Me walked by with an amp and said, “Mom, we are playing in the cafeteria–come on!” I picked up my chair, my bag, my purse, my hat, and my plate of delicious homemade junk food, and hauled ass to the cafeteria, where JC and The Baby had a nice, ice cold, healthy Coke Zero waiting on me, and a seat front and center. The cafeteria was the hub of all that was going on at Fringe Festival. That’s where the food was being sold. That’s where the most people would be. Being moved to the cafeteria was actually a blessing in disguise…..They played under the name “Barely Naked”, and thank God,they were not. I was fine, or I thought I was. It wasn’t until Mini Me started playing his guitar solos–with his teeth and then with the guitar behind his head…. All I could think about was the first summer that he went to Camp Jam. I think he was 10 years old. It was sleep away camp, but it was here in Atlanta. They put the kids in “bands” and all week, each band works on a song. Mini Me’s band played “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”. His little self stood there, completely still, staring at his guitar, or at the floor–the entire time–no stage presence–no movement–and I remember thinking, “Oh shit. We just spent $1200 to put him through this?” He looked completely miserable! But he had said he loved it and went back 4 or 5 more years! And each year, his confidence and stage presence improved. And then last year, he went to Berklee College of Music for five weeks and made it into the Top 10 Singer/Songwriter Showcase….So, I am sitting there, watching Mini Me, having these flashbacks, and that is when the tears started to escape from the corners of my eyes–just a tiny bit…he was up there on the stage, in the cafeteria of the school where he has been able to be himself for the past 5 years…even though he has complained every step of the way, I know deep down in his heart that he is going to miss it–the way that all of us did when high school ended. The audience was going nuts-they were playing Hendrix….Voodoo Child….and Mini Me….well, he is exactly that…..he is my Voodoo Child, as I was my Mothah’s Voodoo Child…Lord knows I was a Voodoo Child, baby…..