Friday, December 23, 2016

'Twas the Night Before Ratmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,

The creatures were stirring – dear God, please, not a mouse.

The children were nestled … in my bed, stealing the covers.

Because uninterrupted sleep? Yeah right, I’m a mother.

When from somewhere below, I heard a strange sound.

Like something was dragging and scratching the ground.

A ghost? Or a burglar? Maybe Santa was near?

But deep down, I had a more hideous fear.

I crept down the stairs to see what was the matter,

As a body slammed into the hearth with a clatter.

When his tail hit the floor with a sickening splat,

I knew in a moment – it must be St. Rat.

He was hairy and gray, a nasty old gent.

But what else do you expect from a giant rodent?

His claws, how they glistened, his teeth were quite shocking.

And he spied me, as he flung bits of trash in our stockings.

“Hey Deirdre,” he hissed, his voice scratchy and low,

“Glad we've met – you’re big in the rat world, you know.”

“Yeah, I’ve noticed the attention,” I sighed with a groan.

“What can I say, we can’t leave you alone.”

“But you ate my car's wiring, I had to buy new.”

“Oh, we feasted like kings on your Subaru.”

“I tried mothballs, I called Geico -- you don't know what it took!”

“Yes we read all about it...from your posts on Facebook.”

Defeated, I looked St Rat right in the eye.

And was tempted, I’ll admit, to sit down and cry.

“We’re rats, D,” he said. “Wreck and ruin’s what we do.

But there’s nobody we like messing with more than you."

And here’s where my revulsion dwindled to almost affection,

I asked, “St Rat, did you by chance rig the election?”

He spoke not a word, but gave me a wink.

“We once wiped out Europe… what do you think?”

Then, extending his paw, he said, “I want to be friends.”

And shook my hand (as I wondered if the world was at end).

"Just remember," he urged, "next time all hope is fallen,"

"Ignore those sounds in the walls -- watch a movie with Colin."

Then he squealed to the air, “Come rats and come mice,

Let’s leave her alone, boys, it’s time to be nice.”

And as he rose up the chimney and into the sky,

He called, “Merry Christmas to all – and yes, rats really can fly!”

Friday, December 16, 2016

All I want for Christmas is ten minutes

Dear Santa,

It's that time again. You know. When good intentions turn quickly into panic as I can't remember what I did with those @#$$ football-printed sheets I bought for Luke over Thanksgiving. I'd like to say something lovely about peace and love and goodwill toward man, but we both know better. I mean, between the puppy and the election, I was already screwed. And then came The Elf. Here's a thought -- next year, how 'bout the Elf and me trade gigs? I'd gladly sit on a shelf for a month, hang out, wait for people to move me in adorable, ironically whimsical locations inspired by Pinterest and wine. #momonthemantel #boxwineonashelf #theelfdrinksincarpool

No? In that case, there is one thing you could get me. The ten minutes back that somebody shaved off the start time for school. I don't know if you heard, Santa, but this year, they changed it -- and making it to school by 7:50 instead of 8 is KILLING US. Really. I realize ten minutes should not make such a difference, but Santa, it does, and I'm sure I'm not alone in this.

I know this is a big ask. So, to help make my case, I've put together a little snapshot of my morning schedule. I think it might help explain why those ten minutes are so important to me ... and pretty much every other parent I know.

Here's how my morning goes:

4:30 am: First alarm goes off. Hit dismiss.

4:45 am: Second alarm goes off. Hit dismiss. Have internal argument over gym vs walking the dog. If walking, can sleep in till 5:15. Except won't. And will instead sleep till 5:30 and then decide screw it, and skip exercise altogether.

4:50 am: Cursing, drag self out of bed. Get dressed, hopefully remembering to remove night mouthguard before leaving (TMJ is sooo sexy).

5:00 am: Start to pull out of garage.

5:01 am: Realize have forgotten towel. Stop car. Run back in house. Because getting out of the pool with no towel during winter? Hells no.

5:11 am: Walk into gym. See that three out of four pool lanes are already occupied. Practically fling off clothing while running into locker room in attempt to score last lane. Make it. Phew. #winning. Except. OMG THIS WATER IS FREEZING.

5:12 - 5:40: Contemplate all of life's problems while swimming laps. Solve none of them. Try to take mind off fact am still FREEZING by pretending am in awesome winter spa somewhere and that a dip in a hot tub and a mimosa awaits me. Doesn't work. As last-ditch effort, imagine am meeting Colin Farrell. Only not in stupid lap swimming suit. Obviously. Would be wearing something infinitely more flattering and fabulous. Look at clock because have been so occupied envisioning the outfit one would wear to a totally ridiculous imaginary meeting that will never take place, have lost track of time. Realize that if I get out in next 5 minutes, could have enough time to dip in jacuzzi really quickly. Except. Pool guy walks in. Dumps chemicals in jacuzzi. There goes the hot tub. Then begins skimming pool. Really? Imagine texting boss, "Hi, can't come to work today, have concussion from pool skimmer."

5:41: Get out of pool, conceding defeat. You win this time, pool guy.

5:55: Get home, turn on coffee maker, let out dog, feed dog while attempting not to get licked, scratched or otherwise molested by family pet.

5:58: Unable to wait for coffee maker to stop, pour quick cup, spilling half of it on counter. Imagine sitting on couch to drink. Ha. No.

6:00: The "omg I overslept" alarm goes off. Be grateful that today is not one of those days. Pour juice and milk. Bring milk to Child #2 huddled under afghan in den. Child attempts to engage in discussion of legendary Pokemon, then asks where the Elf is. OMG THE ELF!!!!!!!!!!! Distract by promising to make breakfast after shower, back quickly out of room, close door and find where you put Elf last. Try to come up with some clever pose. Fail. Prop Elf on top of bourbon bottle. Again. The Elf likes his Knob Creek.

6:05: Bring juice to Child #1 who is playing video game in the office. Child attempts to simulate symptoms of Ebola/tuberculosis and says he cannot possibly go to school. Do not engage, as this will only end in "you don't care about me because you are the WORST MOM EVER" conversation. Smile. Promise breakfast after shower. Child asks for Golden Chik for breakfast, which is not even remotely possible at this point. Say no. He hates you now. It's official.

6:10: Shower. Almost trip over matchbox cars lined up in shower. Because of course there are matchbox cars in your shower. Duh. Move tiny metal death traps to ledge, where they will probably fall on toe. With luck, the toe that appears to have sustained a stress fracture due to last June's half marathon. Because that is what happens when you do a half marathon without training, and who has time for that?

6:12: Remember have forgotten to buy more conditioner. Again.

6:25: Get dressed to the tune of incessant barking by the dog, who is not happy to be outside right at this moment. Remember there are bobcats in the neighborhood who eat family pets. But apparently not at your house, where rats eat cars and dogs eat the back yard. Sigh. Slap on mascara in attempt to look awake.

6:30: Breakfast. Child #1 wants a bagel with cream cheese. Which would be great. Except. Forgot to buy bagels. Offer English muffin instead. Fine, child sighs, as though you offered chopped liver. Run downstairs to pop muffin in toaster, then ask Child #2 in den same question. Bacon. Which is actually in fridge. Microwave bacon while smearing cream cheese on muffin.

6:45: Dog goes berserk, flinging self against patio door. Apologize to dog, but at this point, you'd have to be suicidal, masochistic or both to let dog in while bacon is cooking. Deliver breakfast to Child #2 in den, closing door to establish bacon barrier between child and dog, in case he gets in. Dilemma: let dog in and put in crate. Which seems cruel, but will allow you to finish getting ready and children to eat their food. Or, let dog in and don't put in crate, which seems nicer but will require mad dash to ensure all doors closed and breakfast secured. Pick the crate. Apologize to dog again. Deliver breakfast to Child #1 in office.

6:50: Warn Child #1 he'd better get dressed and no, you don't mean the same shirt he wore yesterday and yes, it is too cold for shorts... oh fine, just not shorts he wore yesterday or retrieved from dirty clothes hamper. He claims he has no clean clothes. Which is not strictly speaking, the truth. There are clean clothes, but no magical laundry fairy has transported them from the dryer to his drawers.

6:55: Warn Child #2 same thing. He claims not to have any pants that fit, because if they are long enough to fit his legs, they are too big in the waist and fall down. This is actually the truth. Point out they might fit better if, say, he wore underwear.

6:58: Warn everyone in vague shout that you are about to dry hair, please be ready and please, please, please -- DO NOT FIGHT.

7:12: Finish hair to the tune of loud screaming from office, where Child #2 has joined Child #1 and a massive fight (quel surpris!) has broken out because Child #2 is "not making good plays" in Madden 17.

7:15: Yell that you are leaving in ten minutes with or without them. Go downstairs, load up backpacks with lunches and water bottles. No sign of life from upstairs. Yell again. And again. March back upstairs and threaten that this time you really mean it. Child #2 stirs and races to room for last-minute wardrobe change. Child #1 is unmoved at first, then asks how can you be so mean to make him go to school when he is clearly sick. "DO YOU EVEN CARE MOM?" Tell him you care about his brain and his use of it, so yes, in fact you do care. And you can discuss this more in the car. He says "you're just going to make me go to school." Yes, son. Yes I am. Change topic by asking if he has seen the Elf yet this morning. "I don't care about the stupid Elf. He's not even real Mom, he has a COPYRIGHT." Explain to your son that of course he does because the other elves who made him copyrighted him. What are you even saying? Realize you are just trapping yourself further in a web of lies and tell him you're leaving in 10 minutes and go downstairs

7:20: Agree to help Child #2 find the Elf if he will put on shoes.

7:22: "Mom, why is the Elf always sitting on that bottle?"

7:25 Holler at Child #1 who finally comes down, still dressed in yesterday's shirt. Give up. Tell him to put on shoes. Which of course he can't find.

7:27: Mad dash through entire house. Find Child #1's shoes in Child #2's room. Throw them at Child #1, while shouting, "Everyone into the car!"

7:29: Realize you are still wearing house shoes.

7:30 Shoo children into car, run back into house, race upstairs and into closet, shove on shoes, run back down, go through garage. Child #2 is in car with seatbelt on. Child #1 is shooting baskets. Screech something you shouldn't repeat.

7:34: Once everyone is finally in car with seatbelts, back out of garage in splendid 45 point turn because by now all hope of calm is completely shot and you're lucky not to hit the retaining wall. Child #1, once captive in car, announces that he hates how he looks. Tell him he looks fine. He insists he looks dumb. Child #2 pipes up with, "actually he's right, he does look dumb." Tell Child #2 that isn't very nice and tell Child #1 that "actually, you look a lot like me."

"Exactly," he says.

7:36: Turn up radio.

7:40: Referee an argument over who the better soccer player is: Neymar or Messi. Doesn't matter what you say; you're wrong. Turn radio up a little more.

7:44: Both children ask if you can pick them up from school... you can't. They then ask if you can tell dad to pick them up "early." Ask if there is a test today. Child #1 denies this, instead bringing up Ebola/TB symptoms. And "how can you make me go to school, Mom, I'm sick! I'm going to make everyone sick? DON'T YOU EVEN CARE ABOUT EVERYONE ELSE AT SCHOOL, MOM?" Child #2 just says school is boring. (At this point, you begin to think "boring" sounds like a spa day compared to this insanity)

7:46: Arrive at school

7:47: Child #2 exits vehicle.

7:49: Child #1 slooooooowly gets out of car, casting backward, sullen glare that shoots guilt daggers into your tiny "worst mom ever" heart.

7:50: Final tardy bell rings. Resist temptation to lay head on steering wheel. Instead, paint your nails in the school parking lot.

7:53: Pull out of school zone. Drive to work. And breathe.

So you see, Santa... those ten minutes could make a difference. I could maybe have a couple extra minutes to actually hug one of my kids before practically tossing them from the car. Maybe I'd yell a little less. Maybe we'd have more time to find shoes. Maybe I'd remember to change mine.

I know it's pretty unlikely that you could grant me this wish. And I get that it's pretty low on the priority list. You know, the kids and all. But thanks anyway, Santa, for listening. Good luck next weekend. And just in case you get a little thirsty, I'll leave some bourbon out for you.

After all, the Elf sure seems to like it.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

'Twas the Day After Thanksgiving

Twas the day after Thanksgiving and through the post-turkey fog,

Not a creature was stirring…except obviously the dog.

The leftovers were stashed in the too-crowded fridge

There was no room for pie, not even a smidge.

The children were nestled with snacks in between

On the couch, where since 5 am they’d played Madden ’17.

And I in my bed, the covers pulled up tight,

Sighed, wondering how to avoid a political fight.

What on earth could we do to spend another day,

Without all our opinions getting in the way?

Suddenly a magical idea took shape.

A movie… one written by the one who made Snape.

I leapt out bed, shouting,“Y’all, we survived the feast,”

“So let’s go to the movies and see Fantastic Beasts!”

“Away to the movies?” my kids grumbled. “No way.That sucks!”

“We’re playing football, we don’t want to; we’re stuck.”

But the sun from the window on this cool autumn day,

Gave me strength to fake a smile, and reply, “Oh, kids? Yes way.”

With a movie review so much like Harry Potter,

I knew in a second… we really just oughter.

More rapid than quarterbacks we flung into the car,

(While my husband calculated when he could escape to the bar)

Now Parker! Now Luke! We don’t want to be late!

For the love of God, someone put that dog in the crate!

To the top of the theater, to our assigned seats!

Shut up everyone, I swear to God, this is a treat.

So up to the chairs, the kids, how they flew…

We want popcorn, we want soda, we want pizza, too!

And then, in a twinkling, I heard from the screen,

About 20 minutes worth of ads, which made us all a bit mean.

As I sucked in my breath and said “yeah, guys, I know,”

The sound blared and FINALLY the lights turned down low.

The film started with music that I knew in my heart

Hello Harry soundtrack, my, what a good start!

The characters how clever, the bad guys so scary

(Though Colin Farrell, I confess, always makes me so merry)

On Colin, On Eddie, on Tina and Queenie,

On Jacob, on Grunewald … my God, what a meanie.

The effects were amazing, couldn’t pick which was best

And they put all thoughts of politics to bed for a rest.

The story was sweeping, it took me away.

Until Luke said, “I need the bathroom, where is it, which way?”

I pointed to the exit, my eyes on the screen,

My mind consumed with each riveting scene.

The prancing and pawing of all magical creatures,

Obliterated the election in this fabulous feature.

Hours (and bathroom breaks) later, the movie scrolled to an end.

And I wiped away tears … yeah, I know, just pretend.

But as we rose from our chairs and half my family complained,

Luke whispered, “I liked it,” and I winked, no agreement feigned.

So from my house to yours I send this silly Christmas carol,

And remember, in a pinch, we've still got Colin Farrell.