Yo home slice!
That’s the way Finn is greeting people these days. Is anyone else’s kid speaking indecipherable jargon? I mean, this goes way beyond being psyched, and it’s a ginormous buzz kill to interpret.
I’m experimenting with a new feature that should add the title of your latest blog post to your comment. Please comment and let’s see if it works or if the whole shebang crashes to bits. Thanks to Jennifer for this cool idea.
I don’t have to tell you that the holidays are upon us. I realized that I totally forgot to put up a guide for spouses, and I’m not going to do it now. Instead, you men who are floundering, get ye to the jewelry counter posthaste!
Before you go, check and see if your lover wears silver or gold. I say this only because MY lover once gave me a gift of silver jewelry, and while I acted appropriately grateful, inwardly I was miffed, as I never wear the stuff. It makes me look as if I might faint.
Some of you may be lucky enough to have lovers who wear both, in which case ignore the above.
Ladies, feel free to point your significant others to this page to make your wishes known. I’ll go ahead and number a few things I liked so you can put a sticky note on your monitor for even better hinting. Lord, do I make this easy on you or what??
1. Cool earrings
3. I’m about to trade in the long pearls my mom bought me in the 1983 for a Choker Length strand because a choker is less matronly and you can wear it casually or for a night out.
4. The threat of receiving an Auburn thong for Christmas led me to do a little research on birthstone jewelry. The whole baby doll on a chain with stone is not my cup of tea (see above) but there are lots of other options out there, such as this Sapphire and Diamond Circle Pendant or this beautiful Ruby pendant.
5. Actually, though, the place to go for any jewelry if you know what stone you want is JewelsForMe, where I saw a lovely opal bracelet, garnet earrings, and a peridot pendant. You can shop by stone, price, yellow or white gold, and type of jewelry on this easy to navigate site. It has jewelry in a range of prices.
6. I’m not totally against silver. It’s great for some people, and Overstock had fabulous examples. I thought these Mexican hoops were awesome.
7. I don’t know that this is a Christmas or Hanukkah gift. However, I’m a huge fan of the gift that keeps on giving, and by that I mean a gift that you can add to over the years. I mentioned adding to collections in one of my earlier gift guides.
This is new since I had kids but now men are evidently giving their wives a present each time they have a baby. My thought is RUN to the Bill Barnes website and look under “designers” at the Hidalgo rings. Don’t freak out – you’ll see lots of patriotic and nature designs at first – ye gods!
But if you click on “Hidalgo Guards” and “Bracelets” (no teddy bears for me, thanks!) and “Classic Styles,” you’ll see that Hidalgo is all about adding rings together, or a set of Moon and Stars bracelets, and you could add one piece each time you add a kid. And if you want to walk around with turtles on your finger, well go right ahead and suit yourself. I’ll be going Contemporary myself.
For all of you still looking for ideas:
Leave a comment and see what happens, home slice!
I was a dismal failure as a spectator at Finn’s Holiday Band Concert last night, earning at best a D in my latest rite of passage into teen parenthood.
Up until the concert began, the information I’d received from the band had been sparse: mandatory attendance at concert rehearsal on Thursday (check), strongly encouraged “donation” to band account (check written), and reporting to auditorium for concert in black pants and solid shirt, with instrument, at 6:40 for 7 pm concert.
I was under the impression that the concert was going to be sixth-graders only, and this seemed to be confirmed by the casual dress code. Finn assured me that collars weren’t required. We focused on the “Band” portion of the Holiday Band Concert, and he chose a long-sleeved black T-shirt that whispered, “CBGB may be defunct, but this ass will see plenty of other smoky bars before my drumming career is over.”
CBGB apparently wasn’t factored in the fashion choices of any other band members, all of whom concentrated on the “Holiday” aspect of the event, and sported bright green or red shirts (mostly collared) or the traditional band (and waiter) costume of black pants and white shirt. Finn looked cool but suspicious.
The concert took place at the high school auditorium, which is a beautiful facility except for the omission of a center aisle running from bottom to top, a problem I didn’t discover until Porter and I had walked across the seats and stood looking at a row of four seats together with no way to reach them, other than to mountaineer over, which is what I did.
My seat climbing skills are somewhat rusty, and I garnered a fair bit of attention, but soon Porter and I were settled in primo seats. I saw that many audience members were obviously much older than I. I deduced that they were present to hear their high-school children perform, teens whose antics have caused their parents to gray and wrinkle, and it was all extremely distressing to behold.
My neighbor confirmed that the elementary schools would perform, followed by the junior high and then the high school, and the entire concert could last two hours. Knowledgeable parents of elementary students sit on the aisles for easy escape after their offspring’s final note.
It was too late for me. The aisle were filled, the center was empty, and the lights were dimming. Bill and Drew walked in just in time to jump into the seats I’d wasted so much energy claiming.
The band director kicked the show off with a tepid welcoming speech, then added, “I’ve
noticed a disturbing trend of parents leaving after their pupil has performed, and we discourage that. We ask that you enjoy this lovely auditorium and hear all the players perform.”
That was fine for him to say, but had he left a hastily purchased Stouffer’s Lasagna cooking in his oven at home? It is one thing to sit through a concert played by strangers when you plan on doing it, but another thing entirely to land in the middle of a two-hour concert
unprepared. If the director needed me for two hours, he should have told me that much sooner, so plans could be made.
My stomach was grumbly, unsoothed by gin. My temperament was, too.
I weighed the embarrassment of getting up from the middle of the auditorium during
the concert, despite the conductor’s plaintive directions, against the humiliation of burning my house down with frozen food, and it wasn’t even close.
But when the music began, I perked up. The sixth-graders played their first song, and Finn’s bells rang out truer and sweeter than the rest. He switched to drums for the second tune, and his beat was steady and firm. At the end everyone clapped and I yelled, “Go drums!” and Bill elbowed me. No one else was shouting,”Horns Rule” or “Toot that flute, baby!” but doesn’t everyone appreciate positive feedback?
The duo and I snuck out after Finn’s part was over (“Excuse me, pardon me, we’re new at this”) and made it home to enjoy a succulent Stouffer’s chicken, noodle and chemical combination and head for bed.
As I drifted to sleep, the thumping drum beat of The Hannukah Song rang pleasantly in my ears.
This next post got lots of attention when I first published it on iVillage– apparently y’all are better at laundry than I am.
Two Years Ago in My Tiny Kingdom: What I Haven’t Been Doing
The Tiny Kingdom has a long tradition of sending its entire fifth grade off for a week-long stay at a nature camp, where they learn about Alabama’s plants and animals and the state’s earliest settlers. The kids wade in the river and collect wiggly specimens, and they hike for hours over unforgiving terrain to see breathtaking scenery. Sometimes they learn about things that are not on the planned curriculum.
Finn left Monday, with plenty of outdoor gear and the few pair of underwear we were able to scrounge up for him. Although the boys and girls stay in separate cabins, I stressed to him that he was to be extremely careful about wearing appropriate clothing at all times.
As Finn and I were packing, I said, “Whenever you’re around the girls, I want you to wear more than just underwear. I want you to have on pants and a shirt, too.”
He looked at me with that special pre-teen look that is simultaneously condescending and compassionate, the one that says, ‘My mom has lost her mind but I’m going to let her think she’s perfectly sane.’
He said, “Yes, ma’am. I usually wear clothes, you know.”
“Even if y’all have some kind of get-together in your pajamas, I want you to be completely covered up. Everywhere. With something over your underwear,” I emphasized.
“Mom, I don’t really want anyone to see me in my underwear. And I think we’re a little old to be hanging out in our pajamas,” Finn sighed as he rolled up his sleeping bag.
I realize that my directive sounded bizarre to him, but reasonable to me because of my own experience on the same trip.
Back in my day, we went on the field trip in the seventh grade. I went in 1979, the year of “I Will Survive,” “Heart of Glass,” and “Le Freak.” Along with my hiking boots, I’d packed Tickle deodorant and Love’s Baby Soft, because twelve-year-old girls must stay fragrant at all times, even when enduring life in the woods.
I was thrilled to be in a bunk next to the girl with the glass eye. I had always wondered what she did at night– whether she slept in it or whether it had to be put through a good cleaning every so often, like a retainer. It turned out that she understood the drama of her situation. When it was close to lights out, she extended her toilette so that she was the last one to get in bed. The rest of us were already in our bunks, anxiously peering at her. She got in bed, put a hand to her face, pulled out her eyeball with a theatrical gesture, and plopped it into a glass on the window sill. It sat there all night, unblinking.
One day we toured an old schoolhouse that pioneer children had attended. I doubted that the leader would be able to teach me anything about schooling in the 1800s that I didn’t already know. I’d read each of the The Little House on the Prairie books several times and considered myself an expert on primers and old-fashioned spelling bees. I had to sit through one anyway and was forced to learn to spell “rhododendron” at lightening speed, a talent I’ve never used until this very moment.
I dimly remember hearing about the four Indian tribes that lived in Alabama (Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Creek), and watching the boys bounce the spongy scrambled eggs we ate for breakfast off the cafeteria table, but I must confess that my most specific memory, as vivid to me today as if it had happened yesterday and not twenty-seven years ago, had nothing at all to do with Indian lore or spelling.
I don’t know who thought it was a good idea to have all the seventh graders change into their pajamas before we met in the dining hall for one last class, but those were our instructions. The girls came out in an assortment of Lanz flannel nightgowns, while most of the boys wore sweatpants or flannel pajama bottoms and T-shirts.
One boy, however, sauntered into the dining hall clad only in boxers. The girls looked at him and let out a collective gasp. My best friend and I only had sisters and we were thrilled to see a boy in his underwear. We’d read Forever (we took off the book jacket and replaced it with the one from The Diary of Anne Frank) and thus had read about penises, but this was as close to one as we’d come in real life.
I don’t remember what happened next– whether he remained in his underwear while we sat in a circle and shared our favorite memories of the week, or whether he was asked to cover up, but it doesn’t really matter. The image was, and is, indelibly seared in my memory.
That’s why I took special care to make sure Finn kept his family jewels covered at all times. I loaded him on the bus with the assurance that in 2033, when Finn is coaching one of his classmates’ children in baseball, she’ll think of him first as Coach Glamore, and not the boy whose penis she almost saw at nature camp in fifth grade.
For reasons too complex to delve into, Sunday I had approximately twenty-four minutes to purchase Finn some underwear that he needed ASAP. I didn’t have time to drive to Target to buy his favorite Fruit of the Looms, so I squeezed in a trip to the mall between fixing some Santa Fe Soup and getting everyone presentable to go to Aunt Su’s. Aunt Lulu and her baby were in town, and the boys had to meet their new cousin.
I ran into a couple of stores, neither of which carried Finn’s size of underwear. It seems that while I have uncommon breasts, Finn’s fanny is a popular size. The Gap was my last option.
I found one package of XL underwear quickly. It was perfect, containing one pair of gray knit boxer briefs, and one pair of white.
The Gap knit boxer, size XL, in white and gray. Perfect for the 87 pound fifth grader.
I figured he needed at least two more packages, and I continued to scan the shelves. As I did, I was assaulted by a dizzying array of colors and designs, not only in XL, but XXL and perhaps higher. My mind began reeling and I felt as if I was back in college, listening
to “L.A. Woman” in a smoke filled dorm room festooned with psychedelic
gauzy sheets on the walls. My heart started racing as I struggled to make sense of it all.
Here were the other designs available for fifth grade boys who know about sex, use deodorant and acne wash, are keenly aware when girls wear perfume, and conduct nightly searches for manly hairs in their armpits:
And most disturbingly:
I gasped, and hailed a saleslady to look in the back for some plain XL underwear. While she was gone, I fumbled in my purse for my Klonopin and swallowed half a pill right there.
If you are wondering what is wrong with this underwear, I can only conclude that you design boys’ underwear for the Gap or do not have a preteen.
First, when little boys are transitioning from diapers to the potty, a mother’s number one weapon looks like this:
If you don’t go in the potty, you wear a diaper. If you go in the potty, you get to wear big boy pants with Sponge Bob on them. Whee!
Translation: only boys who are being rewarded for properly using the toilet wear underwear with little designs.
Second, a boy does not wear words on his butt. Girls can wear panties with words on them:
Consequently, men do not wear underwear with words on them. I left the Gap with only two pairs of plain underwear.
According to its web site, the Gap’s corporate purpose is to “make it easy for you to express your personal style throughout your life.”
I’d say the Gap failed pretty miserably in making it easy for Finn to express his personal style on his ass.