I Believe I Can Fly

I took a little blogging break. Did you miss me? Well, I am sorry, but I did not miss you, because this was happening. TO ME:

And this:
And a little of this:

We were in the Caribbean and it was perfect. My kids snorkeled in the ocean, the hubz and I fell off paddleboards paddleboarded, and we crammed about forty years of sun exposure into ten amazing days. We also enjoyed the local drinks cuisine. Here is a picture of my husband telling some local men how much rum punch I drank at lunch one day:

Our travel day home was not perfect, though. I’m talking mechanical problems, a missed connection, a screwed up re-booking, and getting home after midnight with two delirious kids. Which got me to thinking: you know all those tips and suggestions people give you for flying with kids? Like, “Bring earplugs for the people seated next to you on the plane while traveling with your infant.” And, “Take the red-eye so your kid will sleep.” And, “Buy these overpriced and difficult-to-use gadgets and you’ll be able to change your baby’s diaper in an airplane bathroom with only your mind.” Well, those are completely useless. Here is the only list you will ever need.

Mama, Esq.’s Tips for Flying With Kids
1. When planning your trip, ask yourself: who will watch the kids while I go on this trip without them?
2. If you are definitely going to fly with your kids, then go have a drink and get the fuck ready.
3. Seriously, just fly by yourself and meet everyone at your final destination. Preferably after you’ve had a chance to explore the local spas.
4. OK, so let’s do this thing. Wait, you said you’re planning on bringing one bag? Well aren’t you precious. Just go ahead and make it eight, and budget around $400 for baggage fees.
5. Do not let your plane’s mechanical problems make you miss your connecting flight, because that is totally under your control.
6. When your travel day does not go as planned, try going balls-out crazy at everyone around you. I’m talking yelling, and making empty threats, and foaming at the mouth, and tossing papers around. This helpful tip was provided by the angry man in front of me in the re-booking line.
7. If an airline representative dismissively tells you to file a formal complaint with the airline “to help make his life easier,” remember: it is probably better to choke down your anger and get an ulcer than to explain to your 4-year-old why mommy dropped an F-bomb at a pleasant-sounding stranger. Probably.
8. When you realize an hour later that the same airline representative screwed up your re-booking, just go ahead and drop that F-bomb. It’s probably better your kids hear it from you first than from some little punk at preschool. Probably.
9. Don’t forget to enjoy the magical wonder of flight with your children. You may want to celebrate this magical wonder with several cocktails and/or an Ambien.

Safe travels!

Hide and Seek Gone Bad

Oh no, did you see this story? In a nutshell, a 4-year-old girl went missing from her grandma’s house during a family get together. Insanity ensued, the police came, POLICE DOGS searched the house, and no one could find her. And then, guess what. Someone discovered her sleeping peacefully under her grandma’s bed surrounded by “items” — probably blankets, and stuffed animals, and her poor grandmother’s fragile nerves, which were destroyed in one unannounced game of hide-and-seek-with-the-authorities’-help.

So much to say.

First of all, those police dogs are an embarrassment to the profession. Finding a kid under a bed in a house must be Doggie Police Academy 101, right? Like a prerequisite class before taking “Finding Heroin in Butts and Greyhound Buses” and “Scaring Foreigners at the Airport.” These dogs are going to lose their fancy street beat and face a lifetime of boring police paperwork.

Second, I sympathize with that grandma. You’d think that you could relax about your kids a little bit when you have a house full of adults, but let me tell you what happens: all the grown-ups assume that some other responsible person is watching your kids, and no one is, and then they wander off to some corner of the attic and set fire to a battery and eat expired prescription pills. Or just play quietly, one or the other. But my point is you just never know.


Third, I really hope that girl is amazingly cute and charming, because it is going to take a lot of adorableness for that grandma to get over these shenanigans. I imagine this girl at her college graduation years from now, proudly crossing the stage to get her diploma with honors, and that grandma in the audience: “Summa cum laude?! How about that time you hid under my bed for six hours WHILE THE POLICE AND THEIR DOGS RANSACKED MY HOUSE?”

But thankfully the story had a happy ending and now everyone has an amazing story to tell. I’m sure those dogs will think about that when they’re stuck behind a desk, trying to figure out how the hell to type.

Help, My Pants Are On Fire

Yesterday at bedtime, I tried on one of my daughter’s pink plastic tiaras. I would say it was because my hands were full and my head was just a convenient way to carry the tiara, but that would be a lie. I really just wanted to see what I looked like with a tiara on. And I will have you know I looked hot. Regal, even. So I sat in the bathroom, wearing the tiara while my kids brushed their teeth, and debated with my son about whether or not I was actually a queen.

Me: “I mean, I could be a queen, right? And just not know it?”
J: “You are not a queen, because queens don’t do anything except wear a crown and sit on a throne and boss people around.”

I pointed out that at that exact moment I was wearing a tiara, sitting on the toilet (sitting, not going – even I have my limits), and yelling at people to brush their teeth. As this information sunk in, both J and L got very quiet and stared at me for a few seconds. Now I think they’re wondering whether I’m really a queen and what’s in it for them.

Someday soon my kids will discover that I am not royalty and that, instead, I am just a liar. But aren’t all parents? For example, this week my son has two wiggly teeth and lots of questions about the tooth fairy. Every word that comes out of my mouth in these discussions is a huge, elaborate lie. But they are lies that I learned from my own parents that I have perfected with details I’ve learned from my parent friends. We are a multi-generation community of liars, who regularly tell our kids never to lie. Awesome.

I’m not psyched about my kids discovering that I am a big, fat liar, but I kind of can’t wait for the day when my son figures out that I have totally lied about the lyrics to a bunch of his favorite songs. Some day he will realize that Psy does not sing about a woman playing the saxophone in Gangnam Style (“Hey, saxy lady!”). And that Kings of Leon is not singing that someone’s socks are on fire (“Heeeeeeeeey, your sock is on fiiiiire!”). And that Matt Nathanson’s song “Come On Get Higher” is not about someone flying in an airplane. And that shopping at a Thrift Shop is not “really” awesome. Nope, it’s fucking awesome.

When I was my son’s age, I was obsessed with the song “Just the Two of Us,” which always made my parents giggle and I never understood why. In my 6-year-old mind, the song was about two friends who enjoyed spending time together. So imagine my surprise when, years later, I realized the song was about two REALLY good friends who LOVED spending time together, ifyaknowwhatimean, probably while naked and in a hot tub with mood lighting and essential oils. Why did my parents not just turn off the radio (or 8-track or phonograph or whatever the hell they used back then)? Why did they let me just believe that this was a sweet, innocent song about buddies?

I will tell you why: because it bought them three or four minutes of peace and quiet, and it made me smile. String together enough of those moments and you’ve got a pretty sweet day with your kids. Who cares if it involves a little lying on your part. That just means that you care equally about your own sanity and your kids’ short-term happiness.

And that is what I call balance.

At Least I Am Not 2-D

I like to greet beautiful spring days with my middle finger and sleep lines on my face (or “slinkles,” as my sister brilliantly calls them), so as usual, I was a little grouchy when I woke up this morning. I wandered downstairs and was fumbling around to make coffee when this happened:
J: “Mom, if L is her stuffed animal’s mom, then what am I?”
Me: “Um, if she’s the mom, and you’re her brother, I guess that would make you the uncle.”
J: [Running out of the kitchen] “Hey, I’ll be the monkey’s uncle!”
L: “OK, you are the monkey’s uncle!”

Good-bye, grouchy.

But as with most things in my life, even normal, funny moments have an undercurrent of panic. In about two seconds I go from, “Monkey’s uncle, ha ha,” to “Wow, my kids love their stuffed animals,” to “You know, they have a lot of stuffed animals,” to “OH DEAR GOD, my son is going to be one of those Japanese dudes who marries a pillow.”
Man marries cushion

And although I like to think of myself as open minded, I would not be OK with a pillow daughter-in-law, even if she has a really high thread count and is filled with luxurious down. Mother- and daughter-in-law relationships are complicated enough without one of the parties being an inanimate object.

Which reminds me of a time I got some attitude from my mother-in-law.

So my husband is Chinese and I’m not. When we were planning our wedding, our main goals were (1) keep things super low key, and (2) don’t piss off any family members. As part of goal #2, we talked with my husband’s family and decided to have our rehearsal dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Easy, I thought; I’ll just look cute and show up to eat some good food (which, by the way, pretty much set the tone for my marriage). My white girl self found a new outfit at Anthropologie that included a sweater and (oh no) pants. I got dressed at the hotel where we were staying for the night, took the elevator down to the lobby, and was greeted by my mother-in-law – who was wearing a beautiful, traditional Chinese dress. And she took one look at my sweater and pants, and said this to me in front of all the family who was waiting: “Are you going to go back upstairs and change?”

I did a quick inventory of the available clothes in my room: trashy lingerie pajamas and my wedding gown.

I mumbled, “Uh, no, this is what I’m wearing.”

“But you are wearing pants,” she said.

“Yes,” I confirmed.

She looked like she wanted to kick me right in my pants. But she didn’t. And there was booze at the rehearsal dinner, so my embarrassment didn’t last for long. Ten years later, my mother-in-law snarking at me so openly is one of my favorite wedding memories. Because, really, what did she have to complain about? My outfit was awesome, her son was happy, and I was not a life-sized anime character pillow.

Don’t Bug Me

The pending east coast cicada invasion is, of course, scaring the living shit out of me, no thanks to extremely graphic articles like this one in yesterday’s Washington Post. Here is a lovely image to keep in mind while you read:


The WaPo writer actually uses the words “plump, brown creature” and “wriggling hull” in his first sentence, and it only gets worse from there. He describes how cicadas burrow into trees and feed on their sap, vampire-style, and then emerge every 17 years to “sing, mate and reproduce, in a six-week frenzy…”. All in my freaking backyard oh sweet Jesus. But good news, everyone! Apparently the cicadas don’t sting or bite, and they have a “grotesque beauty about them, with red eyes and orange wing veins.” If I ever say that the upside of something is that it won’t hurt me and has red eyes and orange wing veins, please call for help. Also, there is some discussion of “bug carcasses piling up.” And then a quote from a guy about how awesome this is going to be and how we should really welcome this, because nature!

All I know is that for six weeks of the summer, large bugs are going to swarm my yard, and my insect- and outdoors-obsessed children are going to want to make sculptures and jewelry out of their crunchy brown carcasses, and I am going to have to act like it is a beautiful natural event so that I don’t pass my fears on to them, and then I am going to go lock myself in a closet at night and probably have the biggest fit of the willies on record. So I’m sorry, nature guy at WaPo, I am not welcoming this event.

Really, though, his article was very informative. Perhaps I have some bug issues to deal with.

Shockingly, however, that graphic cicada article was not the most disturbing news story I read yesterday. It was this one. Why yes, that is an article about a painting of Dorothy from Golden Girls with her hair did and her boobs out. I can’t bring myself to post the full picture here.

I get that this is a provocative statement from some controversial artist. And I guess he’s commenting on women, and aging, and feminism, and the painting has become some weird flashpoint for art critics.

But I am fixated on this little fact: Bea Arthur never actually sat for this portrait, which means the artist came up with it all on his own. How does that happen? Was he sitting at lunch with a friend one day, and his mind wandered to Bea Arthur’s boobies? Or perhaps lying in bed, going over his to-do list for the next day in his mind, he thought, “I wonder how much people would freak out if I painted Bea Arthur topless?”

Another interesting fact: the painting just sold at auction for $1.9 million, which some weirdos experts in the art world are saying is a bargain. I am pretty sure that if I had an extra million or two lying around, I would not buy this painting. Or any painting, really. Instead, I would buy the world’s largest bug netting and wrap my house. Or take a six week trip somewhere far, far away from the humming, frenzied cicadas that, as I type this, are slowly waking from their 17-year slumber in the barks of my trees.

And now I have the willies.