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‘Issues’ Category

  1. I went to Home Goods and all I got was this lousy f’ing fruit basket

    March 6, 2016 by admin

    FruitBasket

    “Get your coats on kids! We’re going to Home Goods!”

    I say this to my two youngest children with as much unbridled enthusiasm as possible, because I really want to go to Home Goods. We’re going to peel through the Dunkin’ Donuts drive thru for munchkins, and then I am going to coast into Home Goods on a coffee high and shop the shit out of the storage section. I am ready to change my life.

    Bins. Bins. Hooks and shelves and bins. And baskets. Lots of freaking baskets. I want it all. When we bust out the double doors, our cart full of plastic and engineered wood and rattan – give me all the f’ing rattan you have – I know that our lives will never be the same. I just feel it way down deep in that twisted place in my heart, the part of me that truly understands that the perfect hook rail will make be a better person. In fact, I will be a better mother for spending $200 on things to put all my shit in and hang it on.

    And so when the automatic doors slide open, and I look out into the sea of colored glass and throw pillows, mass produced art, and things – all sorts of wonderful things – to put on my shelves, a wave of optimism washes over me. A fake seashell display calls my name. My son points to a giant wooden buddha up ahead and laughs. And I know we’ve already won. But up ahead in the distance, my mecca, the storage aisle, beckons. It is there I will find my salvation.

    I take out my list, eager to check off all of the items that will transform my home from the frumpy mess it is to the exalted shrine of order it was meant to be. I scour each shelf with a sense of excitement. I can’t wait to buy buy buy. Buy more things to put my other things in. I touch each organizational item with a sense of wonder. The anticipation builds. The possibilities are endless!

    It doesn’t matter that I was here in this very place two days ago. It feels like an eternity. I see things I didn’t see before. Laundry baskets with French words stenciled on them. L’Hotel Des Grandes Laundry. (Oh. MyGODI’ll feel so f’ing European when I am washing shit stains out of my kids’ underwear!) Wire baskets with mini chalkboards, so I can write down what’s inside. So I’ll know what’s inside! The people that think of these things just know. They. just. know. It’s like they can see into my soul.

    I’m loading everything into my cart. My baby is covered in a heap of canvas life force. I’m barking at my 4-year-old to grab anything and everything with mail dividers. The power of clean compels you!

    On the way to the cashier, sweaty, breathless, I begin to take a second look at my bounty. Passing by a wall of inspirational word art, the objects in my cart begin to shape shift before my eyes. The canvas seems senseless. A stack of mini acrylic boxes seems radical. No. That won’t quite work. $29.99? That’s outrageous. Rubbed bronze? What was I thinking?

    And all the promise with which we entered that big box of retail hope is fading. I see that I haven’t checked off a single thing on my list. No organized canned goods. No row of neatly hung princess dresses. No visually stimulating laundry center. Two and a half hours from the moment those double doors opened and my kids and I walked brazen into those florescent lights, I walk to the cashier and hang my head in shame. But not before my eyes desperately scan the shelves lining the check out line for an item that might redeem this trip. A journal with a floral cover, perhaps? NO! A scented candle? I bought three last week. A set of crystal drawer pulls? There must be something, SOMETHING I can do with those! A cheese knife in the shape of a mermaid? No! No! No! As I near the head of the line, I turn and look at the shelves, hoping my eyes will catch something I’ve missed. But there’s nothing.

    “I remember you from the other day,” the cashier says.

    I don’t ask her, out of all the (mostly) women that come to Home Goods searching for order, why she remembers me.

    Instead I smile, and silently hand her my purchases:

    This:

    FruitBasket

    A wire basket with chalk board. So I can write down what’s inside!

    And this.

    Frame

    A picture frame. Isn’t it ironic?

    Until next time, Home Goods. Until next week.


  2. Can I Get an Amen?

    May 15, 2014 by admin

    I love seeing things like this, especially when I’ve had a day when the reading on the Mom Guilt-O-Meter is pretty high.

    Alive

     

    I mean, seriously, isn’t this sometimes enough? Sometimes, when my husband comes home at the end of the day and sees me, ragged and beat down, I want to point out that we’re all still breathing, that we made it another day.

    Take today, for example. For starters, our toddler is refusing to nap or stay in bed at night. So out of sheer exhaustion and, because we’ve all been up late watching playoff hockey (RIP Boston Bruins, you bastards), we’ve just let her stay up until the girl is acting like a teenager after her first beer: loopy, drooling and babbling nonsensical phrases into a toy microphone.

    So, there’s that. Then today began with a total meltdown – screaming, crying, the whole shebang – in which my 5-year-old was pissed beyond belief at the mere sight of the shirt I had picked out for him to wear to school. After 10 minutes of arguing, and stressing about the fact that we were late for school – again (though I think it’s been quite some time since they’ve expected us at the required hour) – I sent him into his room to put on whatever the heck he wanted. He comes out 10 minutes later in Transformer pajamas. I still heart my little a-hole, but no. So, I manhandle him into a green polo shirt, in which he is squirming and screaming and crying and declaring at the top of his lungs that everyone – EVERYONE! – is going to laugh at him for wearing something that is only green in color.

    WTF.

    I tell him through my teeth that he looks very handsome in his green polo. He yells something unintelligible. His face is red and tears are rolling down his cheeks. Then I look at the clock. School has already started. I am at my boiling point. I tell him I don’t care if everyone laughs at him. He is wearing the green polo.

    I leave the room and come back. Faster than goddamned Clark Kent in a telephone booth, he has changed into the original shirt I had left out for him, the one that started the whole meltdown in the first place. I start to interrogate him about his logic. This, of course, doesn’t go well. I usher everyone into the car and we leave for school. On the drive, I start to calm down and start feeling like mother of the year for not remaining calm and showing my son how to remain calm while simultaneously being frustrated. Basically, I feel like the a-hole.

    “Can we all just calm down a little bit?” he asks me.

    It’s like a wrecking ball to the stomach, because I know what he really means is, “Can YOU calm down, mom?”

    I apologize for flying off the handle, suggest that HE lay out his clothes at night, so that when he wakes up in the morning he can put on what he has picked out and maybe, just maybe, we won’t be late for school. He agrees to this plan. It’s only taken me most of the school year, multiple wardrobe malfunctions and many mornings of stress and anger to figure this out.

    But what can I do now, but move on and learn from the experience?

    For starters, I can boast the fact that the children are all still alive. Hallelujah, the children are still alive and well. Bring on #4!


  3. When Youth Sports Get Ugly

    March 18, 2014 by admin

    I didn’t grow up around the sport of hockey. Not really.

    But when my oldest son started to play a few years ago, it was hard not to get hooked. The kids are passionate.  The parents are passionate. I guess you have to be, when from August to March, you practically live in one ice-cold rink or another.

    For the most part, the youth hockey ride has been great. For the kids, the lessons are many: sportsmanship, teamwork and the importance of putting in what you want to get out among them. For us, the parents, hockey is a thing around which a nice little community is built. We help cart kids around, travel together to tournaments, laugh and drink beers in hotel hallways and celebrate in the collective achievements of our players.

    Like I said, the Youth Hockey ride has been great. Until a bump in the road hit me – hard – yesterday.

    Fortunately, my son’s coach – who, in full disclosure, is also my husband – and the assistant coaches of his team bust their butts to not only teach the kids the game of hockey, but also to show them what it means to be part of a team – not a star – and to play the game fair, hold their heads high, be competitive but have fun. It’s amazing what they have done with these kids over the course of the season.

    Yesterday I learned that not all coaches are like that. Yesterday, my son’s team came as close as I’ve ever seen to being part of one of those stories you read in the local newspaper. You know. The ones that sometimes give Youth Hockey a bad reputation.

    I guess it doesn’t matter what team it was, really. Though I’d like to publicly shame our opposing team’s coaches, who not only didn’t discourage their kids from checking, slashing, charging and blatantly elbowing our players in their heads, but seemed to actually encourage it by their own behavior. Some of these things are penalty-worthy in the NHL, but all body contact like this is strictly prohibited in Mite hockey, as it greatly endangers the safety of young players. Did I mention my son is 8 years old?

    Come to think of it, it really does matter what team it was, because on several separate occasions, members of this same coaching staff were thrown out of games for misconduct, once when our team played them in January, and three times during other games before that.  Again, we’re talking about 8-year-olds playing hockey. As I write this, I am floored that this coaching staff is still on the bench, teaching kids.

    After a prolonged period of dirty play, our players begin to retaliate, defend themselves. Someone shoves. Another punches. My son is thrown in the penalty box. But through it all, our parents continue to cheer the opposing team’s goalie when he makes a spectacular save. After all, they are kids learning the game, and we all marvel at their abilities, whether they’re our kids or not. Whether they play for our team or not.

    The opposing team’s parents, however, scream angrily at our players. Idiots. Punks. I stand up and shout to no one in particular  “Really? You’re going to talk like that to kids?” At the other end of the ice, I find out once the game is over, a dad has challenged some of our dads to a fight out in the parking lot. Really? Who does that? But in retrospect, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised given the seemingly acceptable culture of violence and nastiness surrounding this team. That may sound dramatic, but it really fits.

    The referees (a whole other issue) seem oblivious to what’s going on, penalizing our players when trying to defend themselves, telling my husband pompously they have “missed” the calls against the other team. My husband steps out on the ice to tell the referee that he is close to pulling our kids off the ice because he’s worried about their safety.

    The opposing team’s parents and coaches scream at my husband to sit down. “Get off the ice,” they yell in disgust. The whole scene feels surreal.

    But the real kicker comes a few moments later when one of the coaches for the other team yells and hurls a full water bottle toward the players on the ice. Again, who are these people? Keeping pace with the inappropriateness of the game, the referee yells, “What the f*ck are you doing?” but a second later skates to the bench to hand the coach his water bottle, as if he’s dropped it by accident. Then, the ref blows the whistle to resume play.

    Wait. What?

    This guy hurls a water bottle towards players on the ice and is not being thrown out of the game? What is going on here?

    For the last few minutes of play, we sit in the stands remarking to each other how this game couldn’t end soon enough. When the buzzer finally does sound – our team winning 5-4 – my husband instructs his team to forego the traditional handshake and tells them instead to head straight to the locker room. The other parents boo and hiss. Yell that we have no class.

    When they ask why there was no handshake – as this is usually an integral part of the game, players and coaches coming together to congratulate each other on a game well played – my husband explains to his players in the locker room that he was worried there would be some sort of confrontation between the two teams in the line. He was worried that someone would get hurt. And then we really would end up in one of those newspaper stories.

    YouthHockeyHandshakeHow a youth hockey game is supposed to end. 

    After, as we stood around waiting for our players to emerge from the locker room, we were sort of in shock, laughing nervously about what went down. “What the hell was that?” we all ask each other. But we know we’re not the only parents to see a game go down like this. Unfortunately, it happens all too often. Overzealous and unchecked (and perhaps a just a wee bit unstable) coaches, and the parents who love them.

    At home, I ask my son his thoughts about the game.

    He said he couldn’t wait for the game to be over, a sentiment some of his teammates also expressed on the bench. “I was sort of scared. Scared that the refs were going to throw daddy out.”

    And as a mother, this makes me mad. Because as the season winds down, this is not the game I want him to remember, a game where some a-hole coach hurls a water bottle onto the ice and the refs are yelling profanities and players are charging with their elbows up, aiming for the helmet, and you’re worrying about defending yourself against unexpected hits instead of playing the game.

    As a coach, you not only have the responsibility of setting a good example for your team, but for all the kids you stand before. Teaching a blatant disregard for the rules not only endangers players’ safety, it also breeds bad hockey players and not-so-nice people. If you can’t set a good example, you shouldn’t set an example at all. Kids learn exactly what their coaches are teaching them.

    So, to the coach of that opposing team, do your kids – and ours – a favor, please. Hang up your whistle.