Awkward Party Moment

Last night at a Labor Day picnic, I was chatting with a friend of a friend. Someone I’ve met a few times but don’t really know.

My teenage son, almost as tall as I am, appeared at my shoulder, clearing his throat and politely interrupting our conversation.

“Mom, I am now an official member of the Illuminati.” Very serious.

“Really?” I flash a smile at the friend of a friend.

“I signed up on their website.”

“They have a website?”

Seems strange, because the Illuminati was a secret society formed in Bavaria in the 1700s. Often compared to the Freemasons, they appear in fiction as an underground, powerful, almost magical group pulling strings at the highest levels of world government and religion. They have been blamed for many of history’s conspiracies, wars, and other cataclysmic events.

A Youtuber recently re-introduced the Illuminati into pop culture with a hilarious video, thus bringing us to this awkward party moment.

“Now, if they ever need me, they can contact me.” He leaned in, “And I’m on it.”

With a quick nod, he left me standing with the friend of a friend. “More wine?”

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Dressing Up for May Day

In a house of boys living in the oh-so-casual West, we don’t dress up often. So, dress-up days at school cause us some angst.

Do the khakis that fit you at Grandparents’ Day still fit for May Day? Is your only button-down shirt still on the ironing board after six months? No dear, athletic socks do not go with fancy shoes. Your loafers are too small? Can you wear them for two more hours? No time to shop!

And we have sensory issues. Even the softest dress pants rub against the back of one son’s knees and leave a “rash”. Tags we forget to cut out of anything new itch to distraction. Ties make them feel like they’re choking.

And then, when they are all looking absolutely handsome five minutes before departure, I step outside into the sunshine – dressing up in daytime a rare thing for me too – and realize my skirt is completely see-through.

Oh my god, do I even own a slip?!

My Funny Valentine

The day before Valentine’s Day, my sister told me to tell the boys that she loves them, Happy Valentine’s Day, and “tell one girl she looks pretty tomorrow.”

So this morning, my seventh grader came downstairs at 6:40am still rubbing his eyes, and grinned, “Mom, you look pretty. There. I’m done.”

At about the same time, my eight year old niece suddenly realized she had no gift for my other sister, exclaiming, “Mommy, I didn’t get you anything! Go get your nails done today!”

To which the first sister said, “Like she’s some sort of sugar daddy.”

Of course, our eighth grade son was so excited about his Valentine gift to us that he opened it himself at the dinner table last night. It was a lavender heart he made in “polymer lab” for chemistry. He barely let us touch “our” gift because he is afraid we’ll break it.

“And then” said the seventh grader, “you’ll have a broken heart.”

The Little Things

I Am Thankful For…

The time I spend with my kids

Date nights

The fact that…

…Jackson dives in with his all, his killer smile

…Finn’s creative streak, a wild ride

…Max is soulful and funny and eager to share

Date nights

The fact that…

…my sisters are my friends

…I learned to parent from my parents

…I can still help with math

The time I spend with my kids

Hugs that linger

Afternoon sun through the trees

The first glimpse of the beach

Catching up around the fire

Date nights

And the time I spend with my kids.

The Turkeys Grew Up

This summer, when we visited Grandma and Grandpa at Goose Hill Farm, you could hold the baby turkeys in your hands. The boys took charge of feeding them and locking them up for the night to protect them from the hawks and other wild animals prowling for meat in the dark.

Now visiting for Thanksgiving, the turkeys have grown waist-high. They are cautious, but curious. The male leads the females up to the kitchen windows, and they peer in at us from so close you can see the short hair on their heads. There are shades of pinks and light blue in the male turkey’s face. He struts and fluffs his tail feathers, a hundred different browns.

Abandoning her flock hiding from the snow, the only white chicken comes adventuring with the turkeys. We are told she prefers them and follows them around like a little sister. “Hey, wait for me!” Shorter legs racing to keep up.

But with “Turkey Day” only two days away, we expected this crew to be gone. Isn’t that the turkey’s sad story in all the picture books? In fact, for third graders at our sons’ school, the Thanksgiving homework is to take a cut-out paper turkey and “disguise” it so that it does not become part of the feast. Using any mix of materials and creativity, the kids dress their turkeys as football players, clowns, pilgrims, lions, mermaids and more.

Our youngest disguised his as a tomato plant. Very unusual and sneaky.

But the three Goose Hill turkeys don’t need a disguise. They are members of the family this Thanksgiving: the crazy uncle with warts on his nose, the cousin wobbling around the table after too much wine, and the vegetarian sister who every year, loudly mourns the poor bird.

The Scariest Thing He Could Think Of

Last November 1, my now seventh grader decided that he wanted to be something scary for Halloween this year. So that day, he tried to think of all the things that scared him, and decided that the scariest thing he could think of was a failed math test.

So for Halloween 2016, he was a failed math test.

It is my favorite costume in our family’s history of Star Wars characters, Ninjas, clowns, ducks, lions and dragons. Cheap. Easy to make. Witty. And just putting his personality out there. So courageously nerdy that it’s cool.

failed-math-test

 

The Beauty of a Handshake

“Have you introduced yourself to the ladies?”

We were attending a Christmas Eve party at a favorite cousin’s house in New York. In addition to family, she had invited a few friends from her quilting guild. I had just begun talking with them, when my eight year old son darted into the room.

He skidded to a stop and immediately walked over to the couch where they were sitting, introduced himself and shook their hands. With a very serious face, he maintained excellent eye contact.

They were practically giddy.

Later at dinner, he discussed his concerns over Kelloggs’ plan to change over to vegetable dye for his favorite cereal, Froot Loops. He is certain, he told the ladies, that it will be bad for business.

But he had them at the handshake.

Every morning as my kids enter their school, the Head of School, a principal, a teacher or administrator is standing at the gate – in rain, sleet and snow – to shake their hands. Watching them before pulling out of the carpool line every morning, I have always wished it came more naturally to my guys. But the point of those morning exchanges is to get them there when it matters.

And a little boy with a good handshake is quickly forgiven when he transforms the couch into a trampoline during Christmas Eve dessert.

“He is adorable!”