• Last Night, At The Band Concert

    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.

    Drums Rule!


    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

  • My Mac Daddy & Me

    When Drew asked me what a Mac Daddy was, I was stunned by the question, but I swiftly recovered and said confidently, “A Mac Daddy is a man who dresses in fancy suits and plays drums in a jazz band.”  Drew and I hadn’t had the sex talk yet, and I saw no reason to enlighten him about the world of pimps and whores.

    “Could he play the bass instead of the drums?” Drew asked hopefully.  He’s been taking bass lessons for three months and is learning to accompany Porter on the first verse of “Free Fallin’.”  They’re improving, though slowly.

    “Of course he can,” I said.  Although I’d originally defined a Mac Daddy as a drummer, there was no reason he couldn’t play the bass, the tuba, or the ukulele for that matter.

    Later I heard Drew practicing his bass, and I went downstairs to gauge his progress.  While earlier Drew had been in his soccer uniform, he’d traded this in for full Mac Daddy regalia– a black velvet suit and hat with leopard trim.  He’d tucked some Monopoly money into his hat brim, and the bills trembled with each pluck of the strings.  The clothing was fit to be worn only by Prince in concert or a pimp on his rounds, certainly not by a third grader practicing his guitar.

    “Whoa.  That is some fancy outfit,” I said slowly, wondering why I hadn’t thought to ask Drew earlier about his sudden interest in Mac Daddies.  “Where’d that come from?”

    “Party City,” Drew said.  “I decided not to be a Ninja this year because I’ve been one for like five years, and then I saw this costume and I asked Daddy if I could get it and he said he didn’t care what I got as long as it fit and we made a decision in less than five seconds and I tried it on and it was my size.  Porter got a scary costume that pumps real blood but it was too big for me and I decided I liked this one better anyway because I could wear a suit more places than a bloody mask.”

    When I was back upstairs fixing dinner, I thought about the previous day.  Bill and I had a whole list of errands to run, and he took the boys with him to Home Depot and then Party City for Halloween costumes while I went to buy new towels and groceries.  I had been ecstatic to score the Publix run in lieu of the tortuous Halloween costume outing.

    Party City has an obnoxious, complicated system, in which hyperactive children view a huge board with pictures of all the available costumes, select just one (with extreme difficulty) and scream their choice to their parents.  The parent memorizes the code that corresponds to the desired ensemble, then joins the line to retrieve the costume.

    The code is important– you can’t request “The red Ninja in a Child’s Small, please”– you must instead ask for “TX329278 in a Child’s Small” and hope for the best.

    The parent relays the code to a bored employee, who conveys it to someone in the warehouse, and the crowd gathers with anticipation to learn the results.  Is the Viking available in a 3T, or only a Child’s Medium?  If the child’s size isn’t in stock, as is often the case, the weeping kid must be escorted back to the pictures to make another choice and go through the entire grueling process again.

    Experienced mothers might check their children out of school to avoid the crowds and lower the stress level of the event, and would remember to bring pen and paper for recording codes and sizes.  Only a first-timer would show up in the middle of a Saturday with multiple children expecting a painless, or even pleasant, experience.  Bill was a virgin Halloween costume buyer.

    That night after errands were finished, Bill and I went out for gimlets, and he complained about the crowds at Party City, the difficulty he had persuading Porter to commit to a costume, and the lack of available sizes.  But he failed to mention that the situation was so desperate that he allowed Drew to choose a pimp suit and Porter an outfit that apparently squirted blood, and that I still hadn’t seen.

    I’ve braved the Party City nightmare multiple times, but have I returned with sex slaves and dripping carcasses?  Of course not.  I’ve nixed all requests for even vaguely inappropriate costumes, and have purchased every Ninja costume available over the past decade.

    When Bill got home from work, I asked him what the hell he was thinking letting Drew purchase a pimp outfit.  He looked at me, confused, and said, “Honey, Party City kicked my ass.  I don’t know what costumes we bought.”

    Bill was simply beaten down by the crowds and chaos at Party City, and escaped with the first costume he could obtain that both satisfied and fit the costumee.  He was astounded to learn that he’d purchased a pimp suit and a bloody mask, and not very penitent either.

    “It was a circus in there,” he said.  “We’ll just tell Drew he can’t wear a pimp suit for Halloween and make him think of something else.  He can wear those old overalls and tie a bandanna to a stick and be a hobo.”

    The problem with that approach, obviously, was that I had already told Drew that a Mac Daddy was a musician, not a pimp, and he’s been donning his velvet suit every time he practices the bass.  He also asked if he could wear his new suit to his guitar lesson the following day.  I’d refused based on the weather, pointing out that it was going to be 89 degrees and that velvet was traditionally considered a cold weather fabric.

    We have little more than a week to go before Halloween, and I’m having difficulty sleeping.  If my doorbell rang and I opened the door to see a tiny pimp politely asking for candy, I’d think dark, condemning thoughts about the mother who let her son out of the house dressed so inappropriately.

    Can a pimp who thinks he’s a musical Mac Daddy go trick-or-treating in the Tiny Kingdom without raising eyebrows?   Will the entire Glamore family suffer social repercussions?

    Perhaps I’ll put on some black fishnet hose, stilettos, and dig up a slinky black dress of questionable taste.  I’ll top it all off with bright lipstick and gaudy jewelry and I’ll accompany Drew on his Halloween rounds.  My Mac Daddy and me– we’ll show the Kingdom how Halloween is done.


  • Unscheduled Anatomy Class

    It’s a gamble every day. I send the boys to school and hope they’ll act civilized, that they won’t make exquisitely loud armpit farts, that they’ll make smart food choices in the cafeteria. If they retain a smattering of math facts and information about the planets, the year will be a huge success.

    Mostly, I don’t want the Glamores to become “those boys” who bully others, who talk back to teachers, who hit, who haven’t learned to be empathetic.

    If asked, every mom could identify “The Bad Kid” (or kids) in her children’s grades. Mothers have a gift for honing in on “those” boys early on, and once labeled, it’s hard for “The Bad Kid” to lose the reputation.

    So I was extremely upset to receive an email from a close friend, whose son is one of Porter’s best friends.

    Hey Anne:

    I meant to tell you this. Have Porter fold his hand back to his shoulder then get him to tell you what the skin by the inside of the elbow is supposed to be. My son came home from school the other day w/ this new “anatomy” trick, and I about puked. I swear, I’m not ratting on anybody. Well, maybe I am. Not in a mean way though – I SWEAR! I just think you’re a good enough friend that I can tell you what Porter is teaching others, and as long as {son} doesn’t share any of this w/ {siblings} (or anybody else for that matter), I realize it’s just part of growing up (shit, I guess it is).

    I was puzzled. I folded my hand back toward my shoulder and looked at my elbow. All I saw were a few freckles and no Barbara Bush waggle, thanks to the many triceps exercises I do at Jazzercise.

    When I asked Porter to perform the maneuver and tell me what his elbow made, his face turned red and he said, “You have to ask Drew. He taught me.”

    Drew was standing there, too, and he said, “I didn’t make that up. The Bad Kid showed it to me.”

    “But what is it?” I asked impatiently.

    “Bend back your elbow,” Drew told Porter. Then he pointed to the crease of skin where the top and bottom of Porter’s arm met, and said triumphantly, “See, The Bad Kid says this looks like where a girl goes pee from.”

    Then he and Porter lost their shit at the hilariousness of it all, and I lost my shit over the fact that the boys had been using their arms to emulate vaginas at school, and then shared this knowledge with others.

    And I was a little put out with The Bad Kid, who used to be a hitter but now seems to have progressed to more titillating topics.  My boys followed right along.

    Maybe Porterisfun.com, but he’s also inbigtrouble.org.

  • Bow Chicka Wow Wow

    Hell.  The the Axe effect has struck our house again, but this time the outcome was worse, thanks to my big mouth.

    Last Friday I was running errands with the boys, and as Finn and I strolled across the CVS parking lot together I heard him singing “Bow chicka wow wow” under his breath.  I bought sunscreen and Finn bought some body spray after I nixed his request for back-to-school cologne.

    He grooved to the “Bow chicka wow wow” again as we walked into the eye doctor’s office to get his contacts checked.  And again on our way into Publix.

    I don’t know what that song makes you think of, but I imagine naked bodies undulating in a hazy 1970’s style den with green shag carpeting.

    “Finn, where did you hear that?” I finally asked him, worried that he’d been over at a friend’s house watching all sorts of naughty things.

    “On an Axe commercial,” he said nonchalantly, kicking a rock across the asphalt as we walked.  “You should see it.  There’s this girl wheeling an old lady in the grocery store, and she sees this guy, and she, like, hurls the wheelchair and starts dancing around and stuff near the boy because she likes his body spray.  It’s hilarious.”

    He laughed while I fumed.   As soon as we got back into the minivan I peeked in the CVS bag at his body spray.  It was Axe phoenix scent.  Unfortunately, I’d momentarily forgotten that some toiletries specifically marketed to boys are not rated G or even PG.  He’d been sucked in by  the Axe commercials again while I wasn’t paying attention.

    Once we got home, I pulled him into my room for a quick chat.

    “Finn, you’ve got to get a new tune,” I said.


    “Because that “Bow chicka wow wow” music is how you describe the cheesy songs they play in pornos,” I whispered.

    “What’s a porno?” he whispered back.

    Damn.  I couldn’t believe he didn’t already know what a porno was and I was the one who’d brought it up.  Please come here often for parenting tips, or at least to learn what not to do when attempting to raise boys.

    Anyway, having raised the issue, I was determined to see it through.

    “Well, Finn- -and this is not information that you should share with your brothers or your friends–“porno” is short for “pornographic” which is a kind of movie that is poorly written, with stilted dialogue, to the extent there is any dialogue, and a weak plot, to the extent there is any plot, because the main focus of the movie is naked people making googly eyes and so on and so forth.”

    “Googly eyes like you and Daddy sometimes make at the dinner table, or googly eyes like where you’re trying to make a baby?”

    “Both,” I said.  “And the movies have terrible music, and the way people describe the music in a pornographic film is “bow chicka wow wow.”

    “No way,” Finn said.

    “It’s true,” I confirmed.  “So sing something else, dude.  I don’t need everyone in the Tiny Kingdom thinking you sit around watching pornos all day.”