Thursday, May 29, 2014

I Guess I'm One Of Those Moms (How Did That Happen?)

   I am a total, panic-attack, helicopter mom, and I really don't know where this tendency came from. My mom was not inclined to panic at all. I fell of my bike once when I was a kid, landed on my face, and everything was all swollen and bleeding and there was my mom saying, "You'll be fine." If my daughter had done the same, I would have called an ambulance, the fire department, the police, and I would have done my damned best to press charges against the effing bike; I'd do all this knowing, knowing, that I was being a complete moron, but that knowledge still wouldn't have kept me from going over the bend. And my mom would be right there next to me, rolling her eyes at me for all she was worth and telling my daughter, "You're gonna be fine." So with my mom as an example, I don't know why I seem to be wired to be this type of mom. You learn from example, right? Apparently, wrong.
   Growing up, I never wanted kids. I had Barbies, sure, but I spent my Barbie time doing things like drowning them in the tub, flushing them in the toilet, burying them in the backyard, and painting their faces with war paint because they were gonna go slaughter the cabbage patch kids, who I painted green, because I wanted them to be aliens and had to improvise. I didn't tenderly rock baby dolls to sleep because they freaked me the hell out (still do), and I didn't want them in my bed. In fact, the very fact that dolls were in the room with me often led me to go get in the bed with my sister (sorry sis). I've just never trusted those dead-eyed little creeps.
   I was the girl who put spiders, frogs, and lizards in my pockets,causing my mom to fear laundry in a way that I never will (even though I do despise that chore). I was the girl out catching grasshoppers, and that tea set -- well the teapot made a perfect grasshopper cage. When my dad was wondering how in the hell all the grasshoppers were getting into the house, well, he never checked the teapot.
    I got older, and nothing changed. I never wanted kids. My friends started getting pregnant young, the youngest at age fourteen. I was never gonna have kids, nothing that any of my friends went through made having kids seem like a good idea. To be sure, kids with kids of their own is never a good example of what pregnancy and babies should be like (although all the ones that I am still in touch with are great moms, even if they did start young), but those where the examples I had. The area that I lived in after we moved to Mississippi was predominantly poor, and in neighborhoods like that, you tend to see a lot of teenage pregnancy, along with a bunch of other things, but the pregnancy scared me the most. I didn't want babies. They were freaky, poopy, loud, they were always wet at one end or the other, and they smelled funny. That did not appeal to me at all.
   So when I got pregnant (I was nineteen, and one of the oldest of my group to not have a baby) all my friends rubbed my dislike of babies in my face. Now what was I gonna do? Not gonna be able to run from a poopy diaper when the baby the diaper belongs to belongs to me. I'd refused to even hold many of their babies, so my pregnancy was sweet revenge (since it all worked out for the best, I forgive all you grudge-holding little asshats.)
   Well, the rest is history. I avoided the whole teen mom thing, because I had a birthday in the middle of my pregnancy, which means I was twenty when I gave birth. You may not be prepared to have a baby, but if you find yourself in the position of having one, if you are any kind of a decent person, you step up to the plate and take responsibility (whether that means keeping the baby and learning to be a good parent, or adopting the baby out because you know you won't do that, or whatever), which I am proud to say I did. But given the fact that I never liked children, you would think that I would not be so helicopter-y. Except I do like my child, and I hover around her like she has a gravitational pull specifically tuned to me. Since that is not really that healthy, I force myself to back the hell off of her, because I am trying to raise an independent, capable child who can function in society, not a spoiled, mommy-does-everything-for-me, entitled brat. I think that I am doing well in that regard... but I still don't know where I got these helicopter tendencies. You would have never guessed, in my early years, that I would be one of those moms. But I am a helicopter mom, and I can get really brag-y about my kiddo, and I can overload my facebook with statuses about my kid and a zillion pictures, but there you have it. I guess we never know what kind of parent we will really be until we give it a whirl.

(Disclaimer!!! --- But please, don't actually be so callous, I'm just being a little flip here. Parenting is hard work, and takes a lot of commitment; parenting is not actually something you should do to just 'give it a whirl'.)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Finding A Waterfall

   I've written a bunch of rants lately, and so I wanted to share something else with you all. I mean, we all have a lot to rant about, I'm sure, but life is more than the things that get us fired up and pissed off. So I want to share a story about a customer who had taken the time to remember that life is about being spontaneous and adventurous and making memories with family.
   I had this woman come through my line, and to my knowledge, I had never seen her before, but she was just bouncing with excitement with the most ginormous grin on her face. This was sometime last week, I think, on a Saturday, and it was one of those hot days that we recently had. Her order was a bunch of picnic-type foods, and she says, "I bet you can guess what we are doing today?"
  "Going on a picnic?" I asked, playing along because while I am not really the most talkative person, her happiness was infectious.
   Her grin got even bigger and she told me, "I don't usually get Saturdays off, so this is the first Saturday I've had off in years, I think. I asked for it special, and my boss was like, really?!, but I wanted it, and I decided I was going to take advantage of having a Saturday off. So when I woke up this morning, I asked my kids, East or West."
   "Why East or West," I asked.
    She laughed, "That's what my kids asked too! But today, I am going to find me a waterfall. And I am going to sit by it and have lunch."
   I have no idea whether or not she found her waterfall, but there are plenty in Washington, so I am sure that she found one. I don't usually remember very many customers (I literally check out hundreds of people a day), unless they are mean (meanness is just more memorable, sadly) or they have come through my line so many times that they are starting to feel like friends rather than just people I see at the check-out, but  I remembered this woman, because she was so happy and so excited, and I remember thinking that what she was doing that Saturday was going to end up being a really neat family memory for her kids: the day mom decided to go chase waterfalls. She was one of the good ones that stuck with me, even after the day was over. I hope that she found her waterfall.
Snoqualmie Falls, one of Washington's waterfalls, within driving distance

Dignity? What's Dignified About Your Behavior?

   There is a lot of hardship in this country right now. People are struggling, and I don't deny that. But some of these people who are struggling, they could be doing just a little bit better if they would just put their pride away and find some work, any work. You know, minimum wage might not pay the bills, but you know what also doesn't pay the bills? No wage at all.
   I lived, once upon a time when I was young and stupid, with someone who refused to work at places like grocery stores or fast food chains because they were 'beneath' him. He stayed at home, not even drawing unemployment because the reason he had been fired left him ineligible for that type of compensation, and watched his family suffer while he refused to even apply at certain places because they would have been a 'step down.' I have very little tolerance left for this type of attitude, so when people come at me with their complaints about how they can't take a job like mine, because those types of jobs are beneath their dignity, they tend to get Marie's ultra-special-glare-of-death.
    I actually had a woman tell me that she was going to go apply for foodstamps because she couldn't find a job in her old field, and she just wasn't going to waste her time applying for jobs that were 'beneath her dignity', which, yes, was the exact phrasing that she used and the inspiration for this whole post. Because when we are talking about something being against people's dignities, I would think living off of foodstamps when you are physically and mentally able to work would be 'beneath your dignity'. I would think that a person looking for work would only be working 'beneath their dignity' if they took work that involved some sort of illegal activity or immoral behavior. That would be beneath your dignity. But ringing up groceries, flipping burgers, waiting tables, these are not beneath anyone. These are not shameful jobs.
   Maybe these jobs are not illustrious, prestigious positions, but hey, no one ever said that you had to make these positions your final destinations. The little gas station job you found could just be a place-holder job until you find something better. You know, there is no law that states that you cannot continue to look for a better position just because you've taken one position already. And while you look for that position, you have a job that keeps a largish unemployment gap off your work history - gaps that can make landing any position difficult because employers tend to not want to hire people who appear to have large periods of time where they are not working. Honestly, sometimes that is kinda unfair, because there are a lot of parents who choose to stay home with the kiddos for a while before getting back into the work force, and their unemployment gap is not due to laziness or lack of motivation, but instead is due to responsibility. But other times, these lengthy unemployment gaps are due to junior not wanting to take a job flipping burgers after graduation.
    You know, we all have our personal dreams and ambitions, and I am in no way saying to give them up. In no way am I saying that; I think you need to chase those dreams and ambitions with everything you have. But if everything you have involves sitting on your couch eating Cheetos while you bitch about the lack of 'suitable jobs', well, I'm sorry, but I don't think you have much. I don't think you are going to reach your goals and achieve your dreams in this manner. And at the end of the day, I have one hundred percent more respect for the person who waits my table than I do for the person who refuses to work at all. I mean, isn't that a given? One is being a productive member of society and the other is... whining. I would think that would be 'beneath someone's dignity'. But then, what do I know of this type of hardship? I'm only a single mom with two college degrees, who rings up groceries. Wait... maybe I do know what I'm talking about here. Get up off your ass and go find a job. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

You've Been Slimed (The Pink-Eye Blog)

   My daughter never caught pink-eye. I think that this is due to the fact that she was kept home in her toddler years, instead of being exposed to a class of other kids, all of whom do not understand personal boundaries. Nor did my daughter at that age, and once she actually pulled her Nanny's (what she called her great-grandmother) false teeth right out of her Nanny's mouth and stuck them into her own mouth. Ew. But she wasn't around other little babies and toddlers to do that same type of  nasty junk with, which I believe is part of the reason that I didn't have to deal with so many of these contagious-as-hell, spreads-like-wildfire diseases. By the time my daughter started going to daycare, she was also going to school because she was at that age, and school-agers tend to be in the phase when they have learned at least a little about personal boundaries (at least mine had). I mean, we had the big lice horror, but for the most part, we missed a lot of the other infectious diseases, such as pink-eye.
   Which I am eternally grateful, because just because my daughter missed the whole pink-eye mess doesn't mean that I ended up with no experience with the illness. While my sister and I were living together, her kids were going into daycare, and they were in that fun I'm-gonna-touch-all-of-your-germs toddler stage. My niece caught pink-eye a lot. Pink-eye is one of the most gross diseases that I have come in contact with. For me, there is nothing nastier that eye-boogers. My child was not one of those kids that ran around with a nasty face - I cleaned that shit up. Eye buggers make me gag. So friggin' gross.
    But sometimes you can't really help that your kid catches these things. There is not a whole lot you can do. My sister was constantly after her kids, "Wash your hands! Don't touch other kids' faces! Keep your hands to yourselves!" But contact happens, and is even understandable in some cases, such as a bunch of overly friendly toddlers playing together.
   When is contact not acceptable? When you've gone and slimed an entire grocery store with your eye-boogers. That is not acceptable; that is foul. This rant is brought to you today by the woman who was picking at her kid's pink-eye right in the grocery check-out line. This rant is brought to you by the woman who was putting her hands all up in her kid's disease and then putting those same, eye-booger covered, infected hands aaaaaalllllll over the debit card reader's pin pad. This rant is brought to you by the woman who then, because she split her payment, handed me germ infested cash. That is not okay. I know that you need to take care of your kiddo, but please, do so in a way that does not actively aid the spread of the disease. Don't sit there and pick at their infection right in public, ignoring the fact that everyone around you is turning interesting shades of green.
    So of course, there was a hold up on register 8 this morning, because I had to disinfect EVERYTHING. I had no choice; we'd been slimed, and pink-eye spreads like wildfire. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Internet Safety And A Smallish Rant About Standardized Testing

   There are so many things going on right now, and one of those things is MSP testing, and the countdown to summer vacation. The end of the school year always seems to have my daughter so flustered and tense. The MSP testing is one of those reasons (MSP = measurement of student progress). My daughter is one of the fortunate, she doesn't freeze up for testing and she has good study habits, but that doesn't mean that she enjoys all the testing. This year, I think she is only being tested in reading and math, because the subjects they are tested on is based by grade-level, but in previous years, she has had so many tests that she would seem to be having tests every single day. Not all of them were MSP, because regular classes must go on, in spite of standardized testing that really tells us nothing.
    This year, her testing days are lower, but she has had a lot of essays to write, which I am not complaining about, because that is something that she actually does need to learn to do well. She has plans for college, and the better she is at writing, the better she will do in college. I'm not a critic of hard work, I am a critic of useless, meaningless hard work, and to me, standardized testing fits that bill. All those tests do is point out the kids who can take tests well, and the kids who have testing issues, and really, the level of stress that those tests cause in my daughter alone, who tests well, to me, indicates that these tests cause more stress than they are worth, but I digress. I actually wanted to write a blog post about internet safety, and I find myself ranting about standardized testing. Okay, so back to the essays.
   My daughter has been doing a lot of internet research for her essays (because my computer is a piece of shit that craps out on you at the most inconvenient time, she's been using her Kindle -- thank you Grandma for the Kindle!!) and this naturally has lead me to thinking about how much kids actually use the internet these days as compared to when I was in school.
   We had a few specialized computer classes when I was in school, but I never spent any real time with a computer until I started college. I muddled through my first semester with no real computer skills, and after that first term was over -- I signed up for as many beginning computer classes as I could. If college is something you are thinking about, and you don't know at least the basics of computer skills and Microsoft Office navigation, then I suggest classes designed to teach these things be your first.
   Unlike me, my daughter has been using computers at school since day one of kindergarten. In fact, when I walked into her first parent teacher conference, I was shown how she had to navigate through log-in screens to reach her AR reading tests. In first grade, she made her first Powerpoint -- I hadn't even known what a Powerpoint was until college -- and she was already using computers for research, which meant that the school was giving them internet safety lessons.
   The librarian did this, and one of the exercises that she used was that she printed out some conversations that was supposedly between them and some person on the internet that they thought was a kid, and then she would show them some creepy picture that was really who they were talking to. The one that stuck most in my mind was a bearded man in a purple dress surrounded by cats. I can see why this person might not be the best person for a kid to talk to, not knowing them, but for me, there are so many damn kids on the internet, I find that I would rather talk to the bearded purple dress man than some little nine year old pretending to be a bad-ass, because that man would likely have a somewhat interesting life-story as opposed to someone whose mom still packs their lunch, but I digress.
   I don't really think that exercise did a whole lot of good. There are a lot of predators out there, I am not denying that, but in my experience, scare tactics has never been a good teaching tool. I can't keep my daughter off of the internet, because her school work would suffer. But there are things, that as a mom, I can do. So to all of you who are wondering or thinking on this issue, these are some of the things that I do (which doesn't mean that you have to, but just for ideas) and one is learn parental controls on your devices. I actually don't have mine very blocked, just so that actual porn will not come up, but what I like is the report that I get that says what she is looking at, so that I can look too. Also, don't be afraid to look over your kid's shoulder every now and again, just so that you can get a visual. Most importantly, be available to help. If your kid needs help with something, you get the bonus of getting to come over and snoop around without seeming, well, snoop-y.  But even more importantly than that, teach your kid some commonsense. Commonsense can go a loooooong way when you are talking internet safety, and a lot of other safety as well. Nothing trumps commonsense, and the long of the short of this issue is that keeping your kids away from the internet may not be in the best of your kid's interest. Of course, that is something that only you, as the parent, can decide, but if you decide to go the internet route, just remember, be involved and use (and teach) commonsense. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

I'm Turning Into A Dragon

   There is a ball of fire currently residing in my digestive system. Now, some people might think that this is indigestion; my sister favors acid reflux disease herself. She diagnoses everyone with this; and once she was actually right, and her friend actually did have acid reflux. She takes this as confirmation of her diagnosing skills, but to quote a saying that tickles my funny bone, "Even a broken clock is right twice a day."
   My problems stem from stress; I've been under plenty lately. And all this burning, that resembles that heart-burn-y feeling is really a symptom of something else: dragon fire. Yes, you read that right, stress is turning me into a dragon. Literally.
   The first thing that I plan to do once the transformation is complete is eat all the stupid people. Consider this a public service. We could use less stupid people, and I even have an order in which I plan to eat the dumbasses. First off, I am going to eat everyone that has pulled me into their own personal dumbassery; I do NOT appreciate the added stress to my already stressful life. Second, every single Prozac-saturated fool who has ever made any statement similar to "Come on, why aren't you smiling? You need to be happy." No, I do not need to be happy. But, in regards to smiling, the lack of a smile does not indicate unhappiness or anger or any other negative emotion. Sometimes people just have a resting face, especially when they are concentrating on something, like say, doing their jobs, for example. But demanding a smile, now, that is sure to cause a hell of a lot of unhappiness. For all you sunshine-y, bubbly, my-shit-smells-like-roses people, most people do not smile 24/7. Kinda makes you look insane when you do.
   After the drama queens and the smile-whores, I am going after all the people who refuse to read the signs that are posted, and then I am going to go after all of the people who argue in favor of the people who refuse to read signs. If you don't read the signs, and then get blindsided by the fact that a store has an unusual policy, then you can only blame yourself. Few people do, however,and I am getting damn tired of hearing, "What the hell do you mean, you don't accept credit?!" Well, you were warned, not my fault you decided not to read.
   Then I am gonna eat every single person who tries to bully cashiers into lowering prices because the price was lower last week, and you don't want to pay more for the same product. It's called inflation, and your cashier didn't cause it. We suffer from rising prices as much as the next person, and I don't want to hear about how you can't afford to pay an extra 20 cents when you are sitting there texting on your Iphone, with your Coach bag and your foodstamp card ready to slide. Suck it up; be a big girl. Plus, cashiers just randomly changing prices to a lower cost without there actually being a mislabeled price or without management approval technically is considered employee theft. One place I worked for actually had a term for it: sweethearting the bill. Thanks for expecting people like me to steal for you. Oh, and somewhere around here, I am also going to go after all the deadbeat parents out there, just because, fuck them. I'm also, while I am about causing mayhem and chaos, going to destroy all the crappy computers that only work a quarter of the time, because those technological headaches aren't helping anybody.
   The order is up in the air after that; I'll get around to all the stupid people eventually, but I figure if I eat all of the dumbasses in the world at one time, I'll get another stomachache, and frankly, I already am having issues with a sour stomach. And I'm cranky as all-shit. I'm sure many of you are also familiar with the joys of stomach issues caused by stress. And you'll all be joining me, I am sure, in my transformation from fairly nice, half-way decent person (if a little hermitish and introverted) to insane fire-breathing dragon with anger management issues. The world just better consider itself warned.

((****note*** to every person out there who does not have a sense of humor, yes, this is a joke/rant meant to relieve some of my stress, because the only thing about this that isn't a joke is my stomachache.))

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Trouble With Curtains

   I hate the heat. This sometimes can seem strange to people, because I am from the South, where the temperature would get into the 100's, and you could literally crack an egg on the hood of a car and watch it fry ( I know, because I did this, and pissed my bestie's mom off royally), but I will complain loudly and bitterly when the heat reaches 80, much less 100. I don't like being hot. Nor do I like being cold, but for me, it's easier to get my home warm than it is to cool my home off, so I hate heat worse, because heat causes me the most trouble.
   Last summer was my first summer in this apartment, and last summer was enough to cause me to vow to make my apartment over drastically for the heat this summer. I will never spend another summer like that again - we about died of heatstroke just by sleeping in our own beds. You see, most (if not all) apartments in this area of Washington do not come with air conditioning, and then when you sign the lease, there is always this statement about not allowing window air conditioning units because they make the complex look tacky. So in Washington, apartments can get pretty hot. (Just listen to me bitch.)
   Anyway, in regards to that, we have had our first week of 80 degree weather, and we haven't even reached the end of the school year. We're still in Spring, so I am over hear just bitching and moaning away, and shopping on Amazon. Because I need (NEED!!! Need - I tell you!!!) three more fans and some blackout curtains, which caused the UPS delivery man to make cracks about my having bought out the whole store when he delivered all those fans and curtains and curtain rods.
    According to the lease, we aren't really supposed to hang curtains either, but I mean, really??!! And they aren't likely to find out at any rate; I don't like people coming into my apartment, not even the maintenance people, which means that I only call them if I absolutely cannot figure out how to fix something. I mean, really, if my toilet messes up I will sit here watching people fix toilets on YouTube just to see if I think I can do it too. So no one is really that likely to notice the blackout curtains that I have hung, because I need this apartment to be cooler than it was last summer. After all, tenants dying of heat stroke in their own apartments would be bad publicity anyway, right? I'm helping them out here, by keeping us alive. Anyway, that's the argument that I plan to use if anyone actually finds out and actually cares enough to object, but I digress.
   Of course, I bought curtains for both my living room (which also happens to be my bedroom) and the bedroom (the kiddo's), but I only managed to hang the curtains in my living room. I need help for the others -- I'm not hanging another set of curtains solo. The living room curtains were a nice exercise for my sailor's vocabulary, but the neighbors have probably heard enough of my shrieking and swearing (all the windows were open -- oops). I need help, after being hit in the head by an unruly curtain rod countless times, cutting my finger open, and then thinking that after all of that crap, I don't think the damn rod is up right anyway, I have admitted defeat and called my sister. She needs to come help me, because if she doesn't, I'm moving into her basement-level, cool-as-can-be apartment for the summer. And as much as we get along, she doesn't want me and my daughter sleeping on her couches (she has 2 sleeper couches) for about three months. Granted -- I should have waited for her in the first place, because she had already told me that she would put the curtains up for me, but I thought that maybe I could save her the trip.
   Regardless, the point is, if I have to staple those damn blackout curtains to the damn wall, they are going up. I am not gonna swelter this summer. Summer should be about fun, camping and hiking and beaches and all that; summer should not be about cooking in your own juices while you try to sleep.