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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Boys, Power Tools and other Dangerous Things

Introducing the "E-Racer" and the "I-Racer"

As the kid-bearing half of a bi-coastal marriage, I am heavily engaged in the business of independently running my household between (and especially during) my husband's visits. This role is not as taxing as you may think as I have a tendency to reserve the most undesirable parenting projects for dad's visits. However, due to some poor planning on my part, I was unable to punt responsibility for the boys' Pinewood Derby Cub Scouts event.
For me, this was a most formidable and dreaded venture on many grounds:
First, I do not own a power tool. Nor do I want to own one. Not even the pink one that comes in the Big Momma Toolbox.
Second, I have serious reservations about all things "scout" and suspect that under this well-orchestrated front, we have unwittingly signed our boys up for some Idaho branch of the militia movement.
Third, at every pack meeting, I am waiting to get "outed" in front of my sons. No, not exposed for what you are thinking but for the even greater sin against nature--you know--serving those seven years on the ACLU Legal Panel.
With these fears in mind, I embarked on the derby project after first buying a junior hand saw, sand paper and paint. I even rented the scouting movie "Down and Derby" to inspire the boys. Of course, this backfired as it only made the boys suspicious; they worried that I would take over their car projects as did the obsessed fathers in the movie.... If they only knew.
Instead, after seeing those slick-shined movie cars, I worried that my sons would be humiliated at the big event with crummy mom-made derby cars. I even went on-line to see what a finished derby car might cost me. Alas, it was not the $200 price tag that deterred me so much as the illegality of this option. Apparently, the Scout is supposed to make his own car.
Although violating the Scout's honor code was not exactly a felony in my book, it was not one of the seven virtues I had hoped to instill in my boys. I briefly wondered whether any sociologists had yet undertaken a study of the percentage of scout-honor-code violators on death row...
Thus, a frenzied week of intermittent sawing of seemingly impenetrable blocks of wood followed. I noted that the boys' brief sawing efforts were interspersed with many, many Wii breaks. Slowly, the cars began taking shape, albeit not quite the shape the boys had in mind. Although they had downloaded some mighty fancy figure-eight car designs, my veto power had been silently exercised in favor of the humble doorstop design.
So, once each block of wood was finally cut into a simple wedge, the boys tried sanding the now splintered and spiky edges. After a nanosecond of this nonsense, they entirely gave up on the concept of sanding. For life.
Painting presented as a much more appealing activity. Fortunately, the boys did not seem to regret their earlier color choices of Pepto-Bismol pink and traffic-cone orange for their racers. They globbed on rivers of paint. Some landed on the cars.
So Derby weigh-in day finally arrived. In their cockpit preparations, the boys carefully peeled off the newspaper that stuck to their splinter-sticky cars. Then, the boys hammered on the wheels. Next, they affixed decals. Then, they affixed more decals. Then, a few more. And WA-LA! They were now the proud owners of the only cars in scouting history that resembled rolling Chia pets. With decals.
The orange one, covered in I-Phone apps, was dubbed the
"I-Racer" by Paul. The pink one was named the "E-Racer" by Ben.
On racing day, the line-up was intimidating. The man-made racers shimmered with the white-hot promise of speed beneath their layers of high-gloss car wax. There was not a trace of a scout fingerprint to be found on these beauties as they had apparently been buffed into oblivion--along with any concept of their children's input. I briefly wondered whether there was a derby car assembly line hidden somewhere in the Mercedes factory. How did all those scout dads have the time to create those perfectly smooth and aerodynamic speedsters?
I looked at my sons faces and wished I had at least splurged on the Big Momma toolkit. It was too late to back out. My kids turned over their sticky Pintos. I just prayed they would not be humiliated....
No time for regrets. The race was on.
Caution: actual racing footage follows. Hang on.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Rat Showing

So we have been trying to sell our home in the Heights for over a year now. Living in a "staged" home with kids and pets in the interim has not been easy, as you can imagine.
Last night we had a home showing scheduled by some prospective buyers who wanted to visit the house for a second look...this time with their mother.
For obvious reasons, this impelled me to clean twice as thoroughly as normal. I aired out the house and went into combat mode against the tumbleweeds of dog hair, imbedded wads of marshmallow bits and the mysterious lumps of unspeakables hiding under every rug.
After that, I did not want kids or dogs to even breathe in our home. I quickly loaded up the car with my sons, a permanent play-date, the frogs, two large dogs and six massive cinnamon rolls. And a bag of dirty dishes.
We spent the next five hours away from home at the science museum. When that closed, we invaded a neighbor's house, raided her refrigerator and messed up her home for the remaining two hours.
When we finally returned to our own home last night, I walked into the basement and immediately saw the one item I had overlooked in my panic to evacuate. Well, actually two items...the boys' pet rats. There they were, sitting on the gleaming basement kitchen counter as if they had been tenderly placed there as some sort of urban living decor. In my haste, I had forgotten to grab them and throw them in the car with the kids, frogs and dogs before we left.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Some Unenchanted Evening

My sitter canceled today, and I had a hair coloring appointment at a new salon scheduled at five. I desperately needed professional help as the results from my last three home-dye jobs were conjuring up intrusive images of a calico cat. (I always forget what color I used the time before.)
So, I took both of my sons with me--against my better judgment. Peering into my back seat on the drive over, I started to give up hope long before the salon manager was summoned to look our scruffy three-some up and down. Predictably, after one look at my savages, she informed me that children were simply not allowed.
I pleaded. After she warily scrutinized my skunk-stripe of gray hair which was probably widening before her very eyes, she relented. It must have been a slow day at the salon.
Now that we were in, all I had to do was avoid getting thrown out before the dye was applied. Not a likely scenario for success. Really. Just imagine a four and seven-year-old trapped in a hair salon for two and a half hours while their mother is immobilized in a black straight-jacket of sorts. It is not a pretty sight, no matter how you look at it.
Luckily, the boys found my I-phone. Unluckily, they quickly burned out its feeble charge. (If they managed to e-mail or text you with those stupid emoticons in the interim, I apologize, but it was for a good cause.)
Next, they took turns roasting their hands and butts on a floor heater, played catch with a wadded up sweatshirt and tried to unscrew some faux-ancient window cranks that were probably installed to make the new space look like the warehouse it never was.
Then, the boys dumped the contents of my purse. And ate everything that had a fragrance to it.
Finally, they found my mini video camera.
Now, just stop and contemplate this: two unwelcome boys roaming through a hair salon filming unsuspecting patrons who were looking...uh, let's say...sub-optimal? Just imagine getting YOUR lip waxed while pint-sized Michael Moores aim a video camera at your horrified face as if it were some type of a corporate crime scene.
At this point, I reverted to the "pretend those are not my kids" mode. (Unfortunately, this is something to which my boys are getting quite accustomed.) As I surreptitiously supervised, I tried not to cringe when the boys manuevered around hairdressers' behinds for their close-ups but admit to flinching when I heard a distinctive "Shoo!" directed at my particularly tenacious seven-year-old.
As I watched the horror scene unfolding before me, the boys ultimately decided to aim their documentary efforts at the project of my own head. I could now catch snippets of their testimony and immediately worried about what they had said while filming the other hapless guests.
My debut consisted of a close-up of my scowling lips. Then the producers panned back to display my lovely scalp crowned with wads of heavily pasted hair and, what appeared to be, miniature aluminum window treatments. The dialogue went something like this.
Paul: "Mommy turned her hair black. Hideous, I would say."
Ben: "Ooh. Shiny. Mommy looks like a princess."
Tape is for sale.

Monday, February 1, 2010

"The Perpetrators"

Perp 1
Description: male, age 7, brown eyes, tall, lean, sweet, the thinker.
Aliases: Crazytown, Buzzworth, Paul, Digi
Unlawful activity: Interference with prospective economic advantage, breaking and entry, cyber-crimes, obstruction of justice

Perp 2
Description: male, age 4, blue eyes, short, feisty, the ass-kicker.
Aliases: BamBam, Chewbacca, Benjamin
Unlawful activities: High risk escapee, pre-school dropout, felonious battery, crimes against Nature Eco-Friendly Babycare pull-ups--still.

Perp 3
[Strictly confidential data; Any disclosure of personal information about Perp 3 may result in the punitive wrath of a teenager.]
Description: female, age 15, blue eyes, tall, blonde, gorgeous, brainy, athletic, Vegan tendencies.
Unlawful activities: Cheats at Scrabble. Uh, I mean CENSORED.

Fila, Nuff
Aliases: Stinkin' Rats
Description: Stinking rats. No, really, they are stinking rats.