Archive for November, 2012

30 Nov 2012

You Can’t Spell Christmas Without “Guilt”

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I was raised Jewish, so the only real holiday-related lies I was told were about giant arks and burning bushes. There were no Hanukkah characters like Bernie the Gift Guy who magically came to our house, or Yom Kippur elves to help us atone. The closest thing we had, or have, is Elijah… And all he does is come in for a minute during Passover and have a few sips of wine. He doesn’t leave presents. Hell, he doesn’t even close the freaking door behind him when he leaves!!

So now I have a son and we celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah, and sure Hanukkah is great. But Christmas is FANTASTIC!  Christmas also has all these little white lies tied to it. With those white lies come a barrel-full of holiday magic that I never got to experience. But it also brings its own brand of horrible guilt about lying to my kid.

Sure, we’ve been telling him about Santa since his first Christmas. Santa comes down the chimney, he leaves gifts, we leave him milk and cookies. He even comes to the mall to find out what we want, PERSONALLY, because he cares so much. Whenever we’re somewhere Santa happens to be, G will ask if it’s the real Santa. I always say the same thing: It might be. It also might be someone Santa hired to be Santa because Santa can’t be everywhere at the same time. But every Santa that Santa hires has Santa’s ear and will tell him exactly what you tell him to tell him. (Say that 10 times fast!)

Last night my friend was telling me stories about when she and her friends were around seven or eight and found out there was no Santa, and how truly sad they were. I never really thought about how devastating it will be to him one day to find out this is all bunk. But do I want to rob him of the Christmas Magic of the Present, just to save him from the Christmas Pain of the Future? I mean, everyone makes it through okay, right? I don’t know because I NEVER HAD IT TO BEGIN WITH! (Christmas magic, that is. Are you following?)

Today my dear friend brought us The Elf on the Shelf. From what I understand, this is a rather new tradition and it’s one I only heard of last year. I was SO EXCITED we were getting to experience it! To sum it up, the Elf comes to your house sometime around Thanksgiving. He watches you all day, waits for you to sleep, then flies to the North Pole to have some mulled wine with his elf buddies and tell Santa how you’re doing. Then he flies back in time for you to wake up, and he’s never in the same spot twice. When you get up in the morning, you must find your Elf and start your day. You are not permitted to touch your Elf, and your Elf is not permitted to speak to you. But you may share with your Elf all of your secrets and wishes, and he will tell Santa anything you want him to know… As well as anything you did well or completely screwed up during your day. Your Elf flies back to the North Pole on Christmas Eve and doesn’t return until the next holiday season.

When my friend was reading the book that comes with the Elf to G, I ran to his room to put the elf atop G’s shelf. The book ended, and we started to look for him. When he was found moments later, we followed the first rule and named him. G called him Zizzy, initially, then changed it immediately to Bicky Zizzy Itchy. He likes formal names. He then excitedly began to tell Bicky everything about everything and ask question after question, which remained unanswered.

As the evening wore on, G mentioned Bicky frequently. When his friends came for dinner, he introduced them to Bicky and found out all about their elf, Elvy. When his friends left and G was about to brush his teeth he said, “Mom, please don’t joke now. Did you put Bicky on my shelf?” I paused for a brief moment, every ounce of Jew in me wanting to scream, “YES! YES, OF COURSE I DID! But even though we know the truth, Garrett, we can still pretend that Bicky is real and we can still tell him our secrets, okay?” But instead I said, “I didn’t, buddy! I’m telling you, I think that book is magic!”

And then I instantly felt sickening guilt.

I’m just the worst liar ever. I hate the way it makes me feel.

But why did I make that choice? Is it peer pressure? Or did I know that if I told him I had put Bicky there, he would instantly be a little less kid and a little more cynic? Is it because I want his childhood to last a little longer?

I think one of the reasons is that I want him to have the kind of magical, mystical holiday I never had as a kid. And I want him to believe in, I don’t know… Fun stuff? But I’m truly terrified to my core that when he finds out the truth, and puts together that we lied to him… I’m terrified a part of him will stop trusting me. Because I never lie to him about anything else. Ever.

When we went to his room so he could get in bed, we read the book again. G told Bicky how happy he was to have him and that he was really, really going to miss him come Christmas Eve. He asked me if Bicky would always be his Elf, even when he was a grown up. And I told him he would be. That wasn’t a lie, at least.

There is a lot about Christmas that plays on, even takes advantage of, the innocence of a child. And I know we do it to see the looks on their faces, and because there’s so much less magic when you get older, and lose your innocence. I’ve seen the look on G’s face on Christmas morning when there were presents in the living room that weren’t there when he went to sleep. I love that look. I love all that is heart is willing to take in. I just don’t want to crush it in a few years.

So, tell me. Are we doing the right thing, letting them believe in all this stuff? Are we actually FORCING them to believe in all this stuff?? I want G’s Christmases to be spectacular. I want him to remember them as warm, and filled with family and friends, and I want him to learn how to be generous and giving, and that the holidays are about…. Well, magic. And I don’t want him to be the only one of his friends to not have that gift. I just wish so much that we could give it all to him without the lies, big or small.  And I even think we could. It would just be a different kind of magic.

I’m at a bit of a loss here. And it’ll take a Christmas miracle to sort this all out in my head.

I think I’ll ask Bicky to ask Santa for me. I hope he hasn’t already flown off for the night.

19 Nov 2012

Rules are Rules, People.

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This is a week for being thankful. And I am. I am so thankful I could burst at the seams.

But I’m also pissed. I am truly sick and tired to the CORE of thoughtless, self-involved assholes who care about no one but themselves. In short, I am sick of people who don’t follow the rules.

Sure, there are times when rule-following is not the way to go. For instance, had I followed the rules and NOT called the casting-director myself, instead of using an agent, I never would have had an audition for Mad TV. Had I followed the rules and NOT dated someone on set, I never would have married Russ. These are rules that are meant to be broken, and hurt no one.

Besides those examples, I am a major follow-the-rules-ist. At parties in junior high, I would take beers out of my friends’ hands and tell them they were too young to drink. I never snuck out of my house. I never missed curfew without calling. I never skipped a class (until senior year, and then I really made up for it).  Today, I use my blinker when I drive so people know which way I’m turning, I hold doors open for people, and I wait my turn in line.

Because I’m such a stickler, it makes me endlessly angry when I see people doing anything they want with no regard for the rules.

Saturday I tracked dog shit all over my mom’s ivory carpet because people never pick their dog shit up from the lawn in front of our house. Today I went out to our trash cans to throw out THE DOG SHIT I PICKED UP and found one of our cans completely filled with other people’s trash.  This got me so angry, I had a huge outburst upon coming back inside. “What is WRONG with people??? Why is no one considerate of others anymore? WHAT THE HELL?????”

Russ nodded in agreement and went back to work on the laptop. Apparently 15 years of these rants has gotten old.

Even now, though, I’m in a bit of a tizzy. I’m angry. I don’t like that there are so many people whose true natures are to be thoughtless and rude.

And I think it’s getting to me even more now because of Garrett. Not only do I want him to grow up in a world where people are considerate, I also want him to not walk around hating people all the time… Like I do. Because, you see, G-Man is a big ol’ rule follower. So much so, that he’s always telling on other kids who are not following the rules.

Mom! Jason is licking the playground! Mom! Matthew is hitting Samantha! Mom! Megan just took three more m&ms even though you said we could each only have five!! MOM!! AUSTIN IS ON THE TOP BUNK AND THERE ARE NO ADULTS IN HERE TO SUPERVISE!!!!

He is a huge tattle-tale, my son. But I know exactly where it’s coming from. Us rule-followers can not stand it when other people are eschewing the rules. (God, I hope that’s the proper use of “eschewing”. I really don’t feel like looking it up. But I’m going to, because I’m a frigging rule-follower.) (I checked. I think I’m okay.) I’m not sure if we are jealous and angry because we feel like we HAVE to follow and these people clearly do not. Or if we are just mad because we feel safer in a world where things have an order to them, and the order is only present when rules are being followed. Either way, G only got five m&ms and Megan got eight. That’s not fair, right?

My son is tortured with doing the right thing.  And I am very pleased and incredibly grateful that he is the way he is. But I hate it for him that so many around him are rule-breakers. And maybe the worst part is that they get away with it. Because it makes us rule-ists wonder why we continue to follow the rules.

Well, hopefully it’ll be of some comfort to G to know that his mom and dad are also rule-ists to our very souls, and that we turned out okay. Or maybe it won’t be comforting at all. Maybe he’ll walk around screaming about the idiots who cut in line, take three free samples from the lady at Costco, and  throw litter out of their cars as they’re driving. And maybe, just maybe, every once in a while he’ll see one of those jerks get their comeuppance, and he’ll smile to himself, proud that he was smart enough to follow the rules…. (Except the ones that are meant to be broken!)

15 Nov 2012

This Is Why You Can Buy This Stuff Pre-Made

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Crafts. I am not cut out for it. (Cut-out. It’s a craft pun.) I was not meant to do these things. And G doesn’t even really care if we do them or not.

I grew up in a no-craft zone. There was no felt. There were no pipe cleaners. There was construction paper, but you drew on it. You did not cut out shapes. It’s not like I grew up in a house where fun or messes weren’t allowed. They were. We just weren’t a crafty family. Our craft was word-play. We would try to out-pun one another, or make up funny rhymes, come up with new names for businesses in the neighborhood… Or perfect the craft of sarcasm.

G is growing up in a house like that, too. And I love it. But I keep thinking I should at least TRY to squeeze in some craft time. Some “let’s sit next to each other and glue things on other things and make stuff” time.

Well… I shouldn’t. Here is what happened this morning. I promise I will not exaggerate.

I decided G and I should have an easy morning. I’d bring him to school at 10:00 instead of 9:00 today, so we could have one morning where we weren’t rushing, and we could (say it with me) DO A CRAFT.

I thought this napkin ring craft would be super fun and it looked rather easy. I cut out the templates, got out our felt and the fabric glue I bought two days ago, and brought it all to the kitchen table. I also cut 5 toilet paper rolls in half to make it easier to set the rings of felt once they were glued. G was bored already.

I got to work tracing the templates and he got to work cutting out the long rectangles that make the rings. “Can I be done after this?”, he asked like a kid who knows his mom shouldn’t be doing these things. “No”, I answered like a mom determined to be… better. “If you stop after that, then I’m the only one making these napkin rings. And no one cares about napkin rings that Mommy makes. They all want napkin rings that YOU make!”

Let’s not dissect that, okay? He sighed heavily and continued cutting.

Then I got out the fabric glue. The word “cancer” was mentioned at least three times on the label, which I had neglected to read while in my shopping stupor at Michael’s. I opened windows and decided to glue these rings as quickly as possible. I opened the cap, turned it over to pop open the foil and OH MY GOD THE STENCH!! This stuff smelled like it could kill a 300-pound gorilla with one sniff. I quickly put on the funnel cap that the glue is supposed to come out of and started to squeeze the tube. Nothing came out. The freaking hole on the tip on the funnel wasn’t open. I tried to open with a toothpick but the toothpick bent. So I decided to take the funnel off and get a q-tip to put the glue on with. Holding the glue in one hand and the funnel in the other, I made my way to the bathroom and slid on the LASSO Garrett had left in the middle of the floor. Yes, the lasso. I miraculously held myself from falling and dropping the glue to the ground, but instead I flew into the wicker toy chest and scraped my leg pretty good. It is only by the grace of God that no glue flew at my face or hair or ANYTHING.

Back to the table with the q-tips. The q-tips weren’t working, so I quickly abandoned that idea and let the glue flow directly from the tube. After all ten rings were glued I exclaimed, “SCREW THIS STUFF!” and put all glue paraphernalia in a ziplock bag to throw away. As I began the next step, the glue smell permeated the air. I removed the rings to the table outside and wished them well.

Every kind of cancer runs in my family. If you die in my family, it’s from cancer. Even if you get really old, you don’t die of old age… You wait for the cancer. I’m pretty sure I gave myself some kind of glue cancer today, but hopefully it won’t take me until I’m in my 80’s.

Now it was on to the rest of the cut-outs. I interrupted G’s actual fun and asked him to cut out the yellow turkey bodies. He did. Sort of. I finished them. Then I cut out the waddles and asked G to glue those on WITH REGULAR GLUE THAT SMELLS LIKE NOTHING AND DOESN’T GIVE YOU CANCER. He did. Then I excitedly asked if he wanted to glue on the googly eyes. He said he didn’t. I begged. He said no. I begged more. He said, “Okay, I’ll glue one on each turkey and you do the other one.” I thought that was a great compromise. I ignored the fact that we were both completely miserable.

After careful consideration, I thought the napkin rings were better suited for the outdoors, and that maybe we should turn our turkeys into place cards. I convinced Garrett this was wise, and felt good about it.

Later we’re making napkin rings out of pipe cleaners that I bought not knowing what the hell I was going to do with them. That should be good fun, no?

Remind me not to buy any felt or pipe cleaners for Hannukah or Christmas. Or any day, for that matter. I’m not crafty, and I need to be okay with that.

Here’s what the place-cards will pretty much look like:

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And if one of you even tries to encourage me to “keep crafting”, I’ll punch you with a fist template and stab you with a popsicle stick.

07 Nov 2012

Missing Dad

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I had a wonderful therapy session today.  I’m dealing with a lot of feelings coming up after my depression and subsequent anxiety. A lot of feelings that need to be talked over and figured out and handled so I can move more freely through my days. I feel better every day. I feel like me again, only better. I’m so grateful to be where I am right now.

So my session today was great and we talked a lot about me being a mom, what that means to me, and what that entails on a daily basis. We talked about how much I love it, how much I love spending time with G, how much he’s growing and how good of a kid he is. We talked about the way we play together, the way he plays with other kids, the stuff he’s learning at home and at school, and how comfortable he seems in his own skin.  I walked out feeling so good about me as a mom, and my husband and I as parents. I felt grateful.

Then, on my drive home, I saw an old man driving. There are certain older men who remind me of my dad in his last year, when he was thinner and frailer than he had been in the past. And this man reminded me of that. And I started to cry. I realized I had mourned so much for the loss I felt of my dad not being able to see G grow up, and my son not being able to ever get to know his amazing Grandpa. But I’ve never mourned the loss of my dad not seeing me as a mom. I am so much the parent I am because of the influence my dad had on me, and I wish he was here to see me pass that on.

I thank God my mom is here to see it, and be so much a part of it. But I wish with all my heart my dad could see. I know he’d be so proud of his grandson. And I know he’d be so proud of his daughter.

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