Sunday, July 29, 2012

Things My Kids Will Never Know

Since I'm an older than average waitress while going to school, I have a tendency to feel my age at certain moments...such as A) having a feeling of disgust when people come to work hung over and still sweating alcohol B) wanting to be done with their shift by 11 PM so they can still make a "party bus" and recently C) mentioning the song "Yellow Submarine" and someone looking at me with a complete blank stare. Wwwhaaa?!! How can ANYONE not know who the Beatles are?! Good Lord, has it been that long?

But it got me to thinking, what is it that I feel should be common knowledge, but my kids will have no clue?

So here's my list:

1) A rotary phone with a cord. And so many things that go along with that. They will never know the limitation of having a phone call ONLY when you're home, and then only 10 ft of cord length. Privacy? You had to shut yourself in a nearby closet, and your parents only had to trace the length of the cord to find you. AND they would always know who you were talking to, because you are RIGHT THERE. Not like you could disguise your conversation. AND I was from a Pierre, SD, so at one point, I didn't even have to dial the prefix. Only the last 4 numbers. I had to wait for that stupid phone to rotate all the way around, (7...tick, tick tick tick, tick) and if you had a lot of zeros in your number, you had to be a good friend, or you just weren't worth the effort.

Along with this, add an answering machine. They will only know voice mail.

2) Microwavable anything. NOTHING could be cooked in less than 10 minutes. Even now, when I cook a potpie for 4 minutes and it ends up still frozen in the center and I have to put it back in for 45 seconds...the kids complain!! Are you kidding me?? If I wanted a hot dog, it didn't take 20 seconds...first, I had to boil the water, then put the hot dog in and wait for at least 3 more minutes. Popcorn. Worse. Heat oil, put in 2 seeds, wait until they pop, add more popcorn wait an ungodly amount of like 6 minutes for it to finish popping. AND you had to stand there or you would start a fire. Which I did. Several times.

3) Television without the ability to fast forward through commercials, record your favorite program...or hell, even a remote! If you didn't set time aside to watch your favorite show, you were SOL. You had to pee? You waited for the commercial...and sat through them all. You missed something? Well too bad. Gone. You had to actually get off your fat bum to go turn a dial. You were considered rich if you had more than 5 channels. I remember the birth of HBO, and MTV. And MTV played music videos (gasp!) of bands in front of a psychedelic background. You adjusted antennas. Your TV was a huge box, not "flat." Your favorite program was on? You made time to all view it together, it was almost as important as the family dinner. If your favorite cartoon character farted, you couldn't rewind and play it over and over. (But, wait, farting and burping and vomiting weren't a part of our cartoons...)

4) We washed our dishes by hand, and you divided the chore into "wash," "dry" and "put away" and there were marvelous conversations held over hot water and bubbles.

5) We couldn't "Google" anything. You went to the library or you were lucky to own a set of encyclopedias.

6) We had "typing" class in Jr. High. With real life typewriters that didn't have a backspace or delete. Just "white out."

7) We played outside, made-up games. We knew our neighbors and we came home when it was dark. No worries. I remember a time when my parents had a camper parked in our driveway, and a friend and I spent the whole day drawing, coloring, and cutting out paper food for our "restaurant" in there. We sold lemonade, and painted rocks at the end of our driveway.

8) Parents (and Teachers) were allowed to "spank" us without fear of a 9-1-1 call or some sort of civil suit filed.

9) We behaved in public places without the aid of a "tablet" a "a Kindle" or any other electronic device. We behaved or we were spanked. End or story.

10) If you were a bully, you did it in person...not on Facebook, or via email. It's so amazing how brave certain people are when they don't have to confront someone face-to-face.

11) Obesity was not an issue.

12) Everyone suffered from chicken pox at least once.

13) Birthday parties were simple. You played pin the tail on the donkey, or pop the balloon by sitting on it and you blew out your candles on a lopsided cake.  It wasn't a competition of which parent could outdo which parent by rental blow up games, or rental of facilities or entertainment.

14) Roller skates that involved a key and a sturdy tennis shoe.

15) You had limited brand names...Wrangler, Levi's and that was about it.

16) College was affordable.

17) Video games were Pong, Donkey Kong, Centipede, and pinball. And they cost 25¢ to play.

18) Gasoline cost less than a dollar a gallon.

19) If you were lucky enough to own a video camera, it had a huge battery pack you strapped around your waist large enough to make Rambo proud.

And once you got older (18 was legal), choice of liquor shots consisted of whiskey, Everclear, Jack Daniels. Not a Chuck Norris, not anything involving Red Bull, or anything tasting like cake. Beer was American and was limited to brands such as Olympia, Pabst, Miller High Life, and Schlitz. We didn't care how many calories it had.

20) Barbie didn't have several Kens to choose from, or a mansion, or a car, or a Pet Shop. Most of mine had homemade clothes.

Ahhh, the simple life. Makes me wonder what my grandparents thought of as evolutionary....

My youngest is turning 6. He wants to play laser tag. He hasn't been to kindergarten yet, so I have to invite MY friends to be bait. Just so he has something to shoot at. Sad.

We look at everything wrong in the world today...drugs, shooting sprees in schools and public places, sexual and physical abuse, a disconnect with parents and children, violence, puberty happening sooner than 13....I think sometimes our world has allowed us to be more 'disonnected' in an all too connected world.

Family suppers have disappeared, holidays like "May Day," are gone, kids growing up too fast and exposed to so much too soon, families gathered around the TV instead of enjoying one-on-one interaction with one another...


Too many distractions, not enough interactions.

Life should be simple. It seems to have a greater impact.

Friday, July 13, 2012

And Now on the Lighter Side

I thought that as my boys grew older, the cute things they say would diminish. But as it turns out, they just have an understanding of a wider range of subjects. For example:

One early morning, I was having a private conversation with my husband about a woman' "friend" for lack of a better word. I didn't realize that my oldest was within earshot and suddenly, he had all kinds of questions. If you tell him, "Never mind Kaiden." It only fuels the fire, and he will pepper you with questions until you are brow beaten and worn down. So I handled it the best way I saw fit, I left the room. In my absence, my husband explained in gentle 8-year-old terminology what it was. It causes pain, makes mommy tired (and Lord knows what else!) After the short lecture, my son found me and sat next to me. He put his arm around me, and with genuine concern, looked me straight in the eye and said, "Mom. I'm really sorry about your spin cycle."

Well, that's one way to look at it.

My youngest was an early talker and hasn't quit since. He starts conversations with complete strangers. He usually will introduce himself and then add a little tidbit about him that he thinks you'd like to know.

"Hi, I'm Kamrin Schweitzer, and I can whistle!" or "Hi, I'm Kamrin Schweitzer and I like guns." (Which goes over great with authorities and concerned parents.)

Look for this picture on the news someday.

He has a slight lisp where "s" sounds like "th" and "th" sounds are pronounced as "d's". So when he's talking a mile a minute, you can see everyone just nicely nod their head.

He IS obsessed with any sort of weapon of destruction. We visited the museum in Pierre while at Grammie's and Papa's. After having lengthy conversations with both the greeter AND the gift shop lady, he was all over the place. He didn't seem to be listening to anything. But when we got home, he was able to tell his dad that he saw an "AK47, a REAL grenade and a purple heart medal from WWII." That's what's amazing about him, he doesn't seem to be paying attention at all, but he is actually absorbing everything you say.

He has his own language. A doorbell is a "ring bell." So he will tell you to, "ring the ring bell."

If you sneezed, you "bless you-ed". So he may tell me, "Mom I bless you-ed 3 times!"

Along the same lines, if he 'accidently' did something, he oopsied. As in, "Momma, I oopsied peed the bed."

He looks for his swimming 'gobbles.'

He asked me if he dressed up as Santa Claus on Halloween, could he get presents AND candy?

When dad takes him fishing, he brings his "fishing hooker." (Umm, is there something I should know about?)

Anyone who waves to him is an instant "best friend." Which I find disturbing and endearing at the same time.

He is concerned about Kaiden's 'love life.' He told Kaiden that he should be ready for a girlfriend, because he will have 45 of them when he turns 10.

He randomly visits our neighbors and chats with them until we discover him missing and have to go look for him. (That earns us a 'parent of the year' award.)

The dynamics between the two is, for the most part, sweet. Yeah, Kaiden will hip-check him into a wall and then immediately ask if he's okay like he had NO IDEA how that happened!

Kaiden mothers him. Holds his hand at the dentist, even if they're just showing him how to floss. He holds him back at the curb when crossing the street to make sure he's safe. Reads to him.
A quiet moment.

But he manipulates him as well. There have been several occasions when I've told Kaiden, "No. He can't do (something)" and it won't be 2 minutes later that Kamrin is there asking again.

They have common interests, usually concerning the size, shape and smell of poop, which they feel the need to discuss in the bathroom at the same time. They care about their hygiene, especially the way they smell, "for the ladies" (Kaiden's term), which involves a cloud of dad's Axe body spray. And they are constantly perfecting their dance moves.

No matter how trying the day has been between the two of them, how many verbal and physical injuries have occurred, or one is considered a "butt cheek" by the other, they absolutely CANNOT be separated at bedtime. I love that time. I often check on them to find them sleeping soundly, but snuggling one another.

I swear those are NOT the only PJs Kam owns.

They're a perfect match. A yin for one's yang. I hope someday when they are older and they read this or are reminiscing together, they are still this humorous, this connected, and still best friends.
Peace out.

Insight On Moving...According to My Kids

Without trying to incite a pity party, I have wanted to write this post for a long time. I held off, hoping not to embarrass my parents or to classify myself as a "failure." I've battled this a long time, and feel if I write about it, I may somehow, relieve myself of some of the guilt I've been feeling.

About 3 years ago, when my husband lost his job, I decided the best thing we could do was to consolidate our debt. I went to Wells Fargo, a bank who considered me a VIP for nearly 20 years. They referred me to Wells Fargo FINANCIAL, who, using a salesman pitch so slick they could sell ice to an Eskimo, convinced me take a loan which would allow us one payment a month, rather than several payments to credit cards, car loans, etc. I was under the assumption that they needed to appraise my house as collateral. What they were really doing was giving me a home equity loan. I didn't understand that, and I have no one to blame but myself. They told me that they would start me out at 9+% interest, and every year that I made my payment on time, they would re-evaluate me and lower the interest rate. Sounds good, right? Except they went out of business 2 months later, and I was stuck at the high interest rate.

We sacrificed as much as we could to make those payments. We robbed Peter to pay Paul, we gave up Netflix, went to basic cable, bought our kids' clothes at second hand stores, gave our kids haircuts at home (bad idea), had to forgo fresh fruits and vegetable for frozen (they suck), didn't take any vacations, clipped coupons, and gave up our health insurance (not the kids), and worried ourselves to ulcers. But we did it.

I called every person I knew to try and help, the mortgage company (who informed me that I was making "empty threats" when I genuinely asked them if they wouldn't want payments vs. a foreclosure) I called the head of their complaint department, other banks, everyone I could think of. I said "no" so many times to my kids because "we didn't have money" that every sentence they asked me, started with, "someday...when we have money...can we..." I'm worried I've warped them.

Then I lost my job. I went back to school and worked part time. We had to file bankruptcy. I was ashamed. Humiliated. Degraded. And after cautiously telling my closest friends we had to do that, found it was more common than I had thought. Two weeks after we filed, we had to transport my husband to the hospital by ambulance for vertigo. Where he stayed for 2 days. Without health insurance...well you get the idea.

After consulting a lawyer, she said we would be better off giving up our house. I can see why Kleenex boxes are common in their offices.

Long story short, after 8 years of on-time-payments and more than 20 years of VIP status, we have to move.

Now to tell my kids. Thank God for my kids...they put it in perspective...

I told them, "We have to find a new place to live."

They say, "We need a new house, ours is old."

I told them, "You might not have your own rooms."

They say, "Yea! Can we get bunk beds?"

I say, "We need to go through everything because we might not have room for everything."

They say, "I think other kids would like this toy."

I say, "I'm going to miss our fantastic neighbors" (And, Oh Lord, I so will.)

They say, "Can we be somewhere with more kids?"

I say, "I can't imagine packing!"

They say, "We have so much junk."

I say, "We have to have a garage sale."

They say, "Can we have a lemonade stand?"

I say, "It might be a longer drive to daycare."

They say, "Can we be close to a place where we can go for bike rides?"

I say, "Our new place will be so small."

They say, "You won't have to clean so much, mom."

They are so excited to move. I hate it. There's not a day that goes by that I don't look around and miss a part of my house. Kamrin may not even remember this house. I'll miss the height marker in the garage.

A patio that my husband and I worked on in 90+ degree heat to create. My faux painting that I have received so many compliments on. My Sponge Bob mural in the kids' playroom I painstakingly painted. An extra bedroom for my parents to stay in. The piano I've had since I was 8.

The faucet my husband installed for me, the bathroom remodel that happened because my kids chipped a very soul in each and every space. A place I can navigate in the dark. Every ding, every scratch, every stain, every memory. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't have a part of me die because I have to give something up.

My oldest once asked me if we could move somewhere where they had a pool. I said it would be very hard to find a place like that with our two dogs. He replied, "I'm sure going to miss Bo and Ripley."

I see it as a mountain, a chore, a devastating life experience. They see it as an adventure. A new start.

I'm trying so hard to see it that way. But I LOVE this house. I LOVE the people around me. I'm mad at me, I'm mad at the economy...we tried SO hard. We didn't live off the government! We struggled to not be "those" people.

And we don't know WHEN we have to move. That sucks the most. I can't even plan on what to keep and what not to keep, because I don't know where we are going.

And you assholes on Craig's List, who advertise an affordable house for rent, only to find out you are "missionaries in Africa, have a sick wife," may you rot in hell. I hate you people. Because you give me hope and then rip it away.

I made this house. It's mine. I know every crevice, every nick, everything I had hoped to improve...and Wells Fargo, I'm not even going to tell you what I think of you. So glad you covered YOUR ass.

Oh I know, things could be worse. And my parents have been supportive beyond belief, but I hate this. I hate letting go. I hate having to prioritize my belongings into keep and not keep.


God isn't suppose to give you more than you can handle...but sometimes...I wish He didn't have so much confidence in me.