Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I Kind of Suck At This

After reading some blog posts from the past, I realize that over the last year I've bitched and moaned on a pretty consistent basis about my kids' helplessness. I dream about the day that they are able to recognize a full garbage can, follow six-step directions without forgetting steps 2 - 5 and be able to keep track of when bedtime is approaching. The moment that they realize I can't be at home making something for dinner while simultaneously driving them around will certainly be a day for the record books. And what if -- seriously stretch the imagination here -- they were to ever figure out that they should get their shoes and coats on, without being told, five minutes before the time that we're supposed to leave!

Seriously, if I were ever to discover all three kids standing by the door with their shit ready to go at 11:28 after telling them that we're leaving at 11:30, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be able to drive to wherever it is that we were going because I'd be hyperventilating and suffering from shock. There are times that after seeing lifeless lumps on the couch or listening to a soon-to-turn-violent game of tabletop ping pong, I think hell no, man! Today is the day that I am NOT going to remind them to start getting ready! I am going to just put my coat on and walk out the door, and if they aren't ready, well then SCREW THEM! I'm leaving them behind! That'll teach them! And then, sure enough, as the time approaches, I cave in and shout a couple reminders, wait for them to get shoes on and then head out the door on time. Why do I do this? Well, because the piano lessons are kind of expensive so it would be pretty pointless to show up without the kids, and because I'm pathetic. And lately, I've taken advantage of the opportunity to be pathetic a lot.

Kid #1: I swear this kid's brain shuts off the moment he climbs out of bed in the morning. I say things like "Hey, do you want me to get some of those cookies you really like with the macadamia nuts in them" and all I get is a vacant stare and an "ummm, I've no idea what you're talkin' about. What cookeeeezzzz?" Every response and demand has a little extra uuuuhhhhhzzzzzz to it, with a sigh or four thrown in for good measure. One morning, I made the fatal elementary error of saying something so stupid as "Make sure everything is in your backpack and you're not forgetting anything." You're-a-stupid-mom lasers shot from his eyes as he said "Of courssseeee everything's there. Duuuuuhhhhhh." So I, logically, assumed he had it covered.

As soon as all the kids were out the door, I sat down at the computer to return some emails, drink coffee and do a little Facebook creeping. As soon as I sat down I noticed a very familiar green binder sitting by the keyboard. A binder that had the words "Science" and my kid's name on it. Well, that can't be right because I was assuuuurrrreeeddd that everything was taken care of and dddduuuuuhhh! My initial ha-ha-this-will-teach-my-kid-a-lesson instincts said that I should keep my ass in the spinny chair, my non-travel coffee mug in my hand and not only not take the binder to school, but maybe even hide the binder. And then the stupid invasive bitch that lives inside my brain piped up and reminded me that this kid has yet to miss even one point in science this trimester, and boy oh boy wouldn't it be a bummer for him to miss a few points just because he couldn't turn in the homework that he had completed over the weekend. After all, this was the first time he'd forgotten to take something to school all year!

So what did I do? Of course I grabbed the binder, put on my coat and then walked out the door, without my coffee and without even brushing my teeth. And then after I delivered the binder to the junior high, I figured I'd continue my I'm-a-loser-mom morning by running into Costco to get some of those macadamia nut cookies that he doesn't really remember if he likes or not, but I know are his favorites.

Kids #1 and #2: Most days, my boys are pretty good about making sure their clothes end up in a laundry basket. Lately, I've noticed that they seem to derive enjoyment out of leaving one sweatshirt or pair of pants in the middle of their floor -- sort of an "I'm not as anal as my mom" statement -- but otherwise things are pretty predictable. Until, that is, dress clothes get thrown into the rotation. For some reason, a pants hanger confuses the hell out of them and they're never quite sure if the dress shirt should go in the laundry or not, even though they just got done playing in a piano recital held in a room "hotter than the surface of the sun," as my husband so eloquently put it.

Last Sunday, Zoe and I missed the boys' piano recital and instead drove (well, technically I drove while Zoe watched Toy Story 3 and laughed her ass off) a little over two hours in each direction to spend a whopping 40 minutes at a wake for my great-aunt. By the time I got home, I was mentally shot and hopeful that I wouldn't have to do anything besides wash my face, put on the most hideous flannel pajamas I could find and drink a beer. What I was definitely NOT in the mood for was finding two sets of dress clothes piled in the middle of two different bedroom floors, showing zero evidence of a boy trying to be helpful or self-sufficient. What I instead saw was two boys who figured they could just drop the clothes wherever they wanted to and mom would take care of it because, as we all know, mom always takes care of it. And after all, that Xbox wasn't going to play itself!

Now, I could have dug deep and found the energy to walk from our upper level to the lower level, found more energy to wave my arms around while I yelled at the lazy boys and then stomped back to the upper level to show them for the 38th time how to operate a pant's hanger. But then I probably would have just ended up being even madder because I would have had to stand there and watch them fumble with the complicated contraption because even though they could easily operate a controller for every game console ever made, the mechanics of this particular hanger were just. Too. Darn. Hard.

And then the dog chewed on one of the collar stays, which made me start thinking: if piano teachers and the organizations that support music education for teenagers really want to encourage kids -- boys, in particular -- to continue taking piano lessons, perform in recitals and not drop out, maybe they should stop requiring them to dress up in things that require funky hangers, collar stays and ironing skills. Because if they wouldn't have had to dress up for this particular recital, then I'm sure the clothes would have ended up in the laundry basket instead of the floor, which would mean that I wouldn't have had to pick everything up for them.

Kid #3: Since I've obviously failed miserably in teaching the first two kids how to use common sense and be responsible, I decided at the beginning of this school year that I would leave the packing of Zoe's backpack each morning up to her, and her alone. I envisioned her spending several days walking the school hallways in snowboots because tennis shoes were left in the closet, a few days of recess spent indoors because snowpants were hanging on a hook at home and more than a bookshelf full of overdue library books. So, where exactly am I on this well-intentioned project? Here is how most mornings go:
  • You need to put a snack in your backpack.
  • Today you're eating home lunch. Get it out of the fridge.
  • Where are your shoes?
  • No, don't put them there, stick them in like this.
  • What about your snowpants?
  • No, they don't fit that way. Here let me do it.
  • Just, give them to me! Now get your lunch.
  • Wait, where is your water bottle?
  • You still need a snack.
  • It's library day. Go get your book off of the table.
  • It's 10 degrees outside. Please put your coat on.
  • Yes you need mittens and a hat.
  • Put your boots on, too.
  • Get away from the dog's butt and put your boots on!
  • Go get in the car. Wait, where are your mittens?
So, yeah, things are going pretty much how I predicted they would and I won't be surprised when the UPS man delivers my Pathetic Mom of the Year Award sometime around spring break. After all, that's when the boys' high school tennis season starts which means I'll get to do more driving, more laundry, prepare more meals on-the-go and best of all, have even more opportunities to be pathetic.

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