Sans Enfants

sansenfants
by Lindsay Gallagher on 07/17/2011

“She’s gonna have a party every night!” Tess told whoever asked me what I was going to do when she and Ronan went to sleep-away camp. I was too exhausted the first couple of nights to even consider the house party Tess had in mind. The packing process: names on every sock, lists of what to bring, last minute scramble to get sleeping bags and hiking boots – so completely stressed me out that I didn’t have a second to consider how I might feel with my kids several hundred miles away. Just finding stationary was a task. “Stationary?” the sales person at Target said when when asked. “What’s that?” Meanwhile, my kids were home, rifling through their trunks, making gargantuan messes, fighting with other. “We have two more days – please can’t it be nice?” I begged. “What will you do?” another mother asked. Because I am with them ALL the time – that is what I do. “I haven’t thought about it. I’m just focused on getting them on that plane.” Well, I got them on that plane. I didn’t think I would cry, but there was a moment when the kids were meeting the counselors, asking when they would board, that I was struck with a sudden flood of emotion, like a wave of nausea or a fever. “Oh my God,” I said to my friend whose kids were also embarking on the trip. “I didn’t expect this.” I wiped away tears, caught my breath, and braced myself for what might come next. But Ronan and Tess were so excited, that the moment passed. The dread was replaced by an extreme feeling of pride: the kids weren’t clinging to me; they practically ran to the security check. I have only seen the camp in pics and on video, so for the first 48 hours I couldn’t even visualize what their days might be like. I sent letters before they even left, I sent care packages, but I couldn’t imagine them reading my words. I stopped myself from dwelling on things like bedtime or getting teased – I put it all out of my head. Now there are pictures posted on the camp website and as far as I can tell, they are having the time of their lives. Just seeing what they picked out to wear for the kooky dance is exciting to me. Because I had nothing to do with it. (Aside from packing it in the trunk!) That is one of the biggest reasons I sent them, because we do spend SO much time together, they never make decisions completely on their own. Basically, they needed to get away from me. It wasn’t until last night that I let myself go into their empty (blissfully tidy) rooms. I’ve had the doors shut so the new puppy (another blog!) doesn’t go in there and pee on their stuff. But last night, I stood over their empty beds. And here’s what I thought: They’re so far away! I sure would like to see them, to check on them when they’re asleep, to look at their little faces, even if they’re bickering or rolling their eyes. Then I did the stupidest thing – I imagined myself hugging them in those outrageous outfits, holding them and kissing them goodnight. “Oh my God,” I said out loud before getting the fuck out their rooms. I have 7 days to go – I can’t lose it now! As for the party at my house? It’s been a closet-cleaning, chair-repairing, bill-paying, puppy-training fandango. Yes, not needing a sitter has allowed me to live it up a bit. I’ve gone out on the town, had an extra drink (or two), watched David Letterman – on a weeknight! (fell asleep during the monologue.) Which is all good because it keeps me out of their vacant rooms.

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Avec Enfants

avenenfants

by Lindsay Gallagher on 07/10/2011

When Ronan was 11 months old we took him with us to Maui.  We rented a house on the North Shore and hired a sitter for a few hours each day.  It was supposed to be an epic windsurfing vacay – windiest place on earth, windiest time of year – but we were 100% skunked – not even a puff.  I took it as a sign: maybe I wasn’t meant to risk my life in the break now that was a mom?  Maybe I was meant to have a full-on family trip?  So I stuck Ronan in a Kelty and hiked him to the local beach, then watched as he scaled the rocky dunes on all fours.  It was a bummer not to sail, but it was still super special to bring our new little dude to Paia and famous Ho’okipa beach, flat and still though it was.

On the return flight another mom stopped at our seats.

“We left our baby at home,” she said, cooing at Ronan.  ”They look the same age.  I miss mine so much.”

“I could never have left Ronan home,” I said to Joe when she was gone, even though we hadn’t bought Ronan a seat and he was climbing across us in a most unpleasant way.  We were extra grouchy because when we flew over the North Shore on our way out it was blowing 40 knots and there were hundreds of windsurfers screaming across the waves.

“I know.  I would have hated that,” Joe said.

Since then, we have dragged our kids with us wherever we’ve gone.  (Except for a total of 2 nights in 11 years).

“We’re going to Jamaica,” I told the hot surfer dude who cuts my hair.

“Are you bringing the kids?” he asked.

“Of course.”

But I could tell that to him Jamaica and kids didn’t mix.  Jamaica implied reckless abandon and all-inclusive resorts like Hedonism II, which our driver described when we passed it on our way to Negril as: “Wild, mon. They all naked, going crazy in there.”

“People kept asking me if I was bringing the kids,” I told the other dad in our group while we were watching our kids cliff-jump.

“I know,” he said, “Me too.  It’s so strange.  I don’t get it.”

“How could we not bring the kids to Jamaica?” Joe said.  Both of us have always wanted to go.  “How could we not share this with them?”

Sure, it hasn’t been easy dragging them to cities and beaches and mountains and back.  I’ve had to pack diapers, sippy cups, allergy meds, 70spf sunblock, goggles, helmets, even scooters.  I’ve stuffed my car to the hilt with sleds and boots or bikes and towels.  But still, leaving them home just doesn’t make sense.  Here’s why:

  • I would miss them too much to have fun.  I would worry and the reason I go on vacation is to relax.  When they are with me, I don’t even need a cell phone.  School’s not gonna call.  Or a sitter.  There’s no comfort like knowing my kids are close by.
  • Activities like snorkeling are more fun with kids.  I held Tess’s hand as we floated across the reef; Ronan and I dove down together to get a closer look at a lion fish.  Joe and I could do those things, too, but he’s been to Bonaire scuba diving, so he’s harder to impress.  My kids see a fish – any fish – and they are overjoyed.
  • My kids inspire me.  Don’t get me wrong, I dump them in ski school – or now that they’re old enough, simply let them go with their friends.  I like to ride with the grownups, I admit.  But I love meeting up with the kids for a few runs at the end of the day, seeing all that they’ve learned.  Ronan and Tess surpassed me on the cliffs in Negril.  I only jumped because Tess hurled herself off and the fastest way to reach her was to hurl myself off, too.  And they coaxed me into flying over the jungle on a zip-line.  If they hadn’t been there, I would have sat on the beach with a book.
  • I want them in my memories.  If they weren’t with me, it couldn’t go down in my personal history as a “best trip.”  I wouldn’t want to look at the pictures endlessly, reliving it all.  There are only so many shots a person can stand of themselves.

I’ll admit, they drive me nuts on the plane or fighting in the back seat.  I spend hundreds on lost mittens, face-masks and flippers.  There are times that I wish they would go to sleep, eat their dinner, stop fighting, shower!  But will I take them again?  Yeah, mon.

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Stepping Up: Do Our Kids Really Need To “Graduate” From So Many Grades?

steppingup

by Lindsay Gallagher on 06/19/2011

Ronan receiving his certificate at Friday Morning Sing

 

Basically the last two weeks of school are an endless fandango of performances, art shows, celebrations, gift-giving, Jooners pot lucks, and “graduations.”  I put quotation marks around the last word because I can’t in clear conscience consider the move from third to fourth grade, for instance, worthy of a ceremony.  Even elementary to middle school is a stretch.  Sorry to be a cynic.  I like to party, but is it truly an accomplishment to finish 3rd grade?  Aren’t we supposed to finish 3rd grade?

I was holding my son’s certificate when checking out at CVS.  The teller read the words on the fancy sheet as if perhaps it were a diploma one might frame.

“Congratulations,” she said before reading the fine print, “On completing 5th grade.”

We both burst out in laughter, because it was funny.  Can one not complete 5th grade?

I know, I sound like such a bitch.  I’m sorry.  My father used to go on about the ridiculousness of wearing caps and gowns for high school graduation as the streets of Brooklyn were flooded every June with an array of colorful satin robes.  (We did not wear caps and gowns at my high school graduation.  Instead I chose a fab Katherine Hamnett dress, which I still wear.)  Nonetheless, I think caps and gowns are appropriate for high school.  After all, not everyone survives those four years which I thought were harder than college.  But, as you may have seen in the pic from my last blog, my daughter wore a cap when graduating from pre-school.

For Ronan’s 5th grade “step-up” celebration, he wore his favorite t-shirt, jeans and a navy Yankee’s lid.  His class was the first K at our homegrown charter school and 6th grade is at the new middle school site, so the 5th grade room-parents threw a special event.  There was a slide show juxtaposing our pre-teens with their 5 year-old toothless selves.  It was darling and I admit to shedding a tear.  There was also a school-wide ceremony at Morning Sing.  Sure, that was sweet, too.  Each child was handed the certificate of 5th grade completion and the rest of the kids cheered.  As for the 3rd to 4th grade “step-up,” sorry, but I skipped that.

“Why weren’t you there, mommy?” Tess asked.  She’s a 2nd grader in a 2/3 multi-age class.  “One boy is moving to another school and we’re not really friends, but still, I cried.”

“I came to your poetry jam,” which was great, “To the art and dance performance,” which was 3 1/2 hours.  (Highlights were Ronan and his fifth grade cohorts doing the Hustle and Tess and her crew Moonwalking), “We had the 5th grade ‘step up’ Wednesday night, I’m attending the end of year play on Tuesday, I went to Morning Sing – I’m sorry, but that’s enough.”  Tess is not “matriculating” to the 4th grade after all.

Here’s what I want to know:

  • Are all of these celebrations actually beneficial?  Of course I want my kids to be proud of their accomplishments, but shouldn’t we wait to see their report cards before we have cake and ice-cream?  I could be wrong – perhaps getting a medal for showing up is good for kids.  Maybe it builds self-esteem.  I’m certainly no expert.  But couldn’t it also give them the impression that attendance is enough?
  • What in the world do the parents who work do during these last two weeks?  I had to clear several days and I’m pretty much a full-time mom.  How did the kids whose parents couldn’t squeeze in a 9am poetry-jam feel when they didn’t see their faces in the crowd?  Joe was miraculously available that day, which was a good thing, since Tess’s poem was about him.  I loved all the performances, the teachers and students worked hard and it showed, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I felt bad for the kids who’s parents couldn’t come and for the moms and dads who missed the shows.
  • I didn’t get my son a present for graduating from 5th grade, but some families did.  My question is: what will they give their kids if/when they graduate from college?  A house?  My mother gave me her old car, which was AWESOME!  “Little blue wonder” was an 8 year-old Honda Civic Wagon stick-shift, which to this day, remains my all time favorite vehicle.  The best part was that she gave it to me a few months before graduation so my friends and I could drive to the 7/11 and the grocery market and the Galleria and the liquor store.  I went to a college where kids probably did get apartments for graduation, but that beat up Honda was still thrilling to me.  I had finished on time, with honors, and I was overjoyed by my mother’s generosity.  If you start with pre-school, then add kindergarten (we don’t do that one at our school, but some do) then 3rd grade, 5th grade, 8th grade and ultimately 12th –  will college graduation mean less?

Like I’ve said, I could be wrong.  Endless accolades may be beneficial.  It may sound like I’m harshing on it, but the 5th grade “step up” was charming and fun for all.  What I fear is raising a child like Ashley on the The Real Housewives of New Jersey (I know, my credibility just plummeted – c’est la vie.  Or should I say “Chic, C’est La Vie?”) Here is Ashley’s explanation of why she, a 19 year-old who lives at home and has no apparent college plans, deserves a brand new (rather fancy) car:   “I’m a good kid.  I mean, I’m not in rehab.”

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Reunion Weekend

 

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Tess graduating from pre-school, 2008

 

by Lindsay Gallagher on 06/14/2011

I missed my 20th college reunion.  After the 15th, which was the first (and now only) one I’d attended, I pledged to return.  This year it was the same weekend as our school fundraiser, for which I was a committee member.  Then the ballet school scheduled Tess’s recital for Sunday afternoon.  I could have justified skipping both, I suppose.  I haven’t ever missed the auction, but I’m involved and feel responsible for my portion.  The ballet recital is short, but Tess goes to two ballet classes a week that are long and hard and boring (no offense).  In the fall the dancers have the glory of The Nutcracker – in the spring, they have this one brief moment in Studio A.

“It’s okay if you miss it, mommy,” Tess said when I told her it overlapped with my weekend of revelry with VC ’91.  “But it is your daughter’s only spring dance concert we’re talking about.”

I looked into flights that would allow me to at least make it back in time for her show, but that pesky drive from Poughkeepsie to JFK made it impossible.  How could I Bust a Move till dawn on Saturday, then navigate the Taconic State Parkway at 8am with a hangover?  I could not drink, but that would kind of put a damper on the fun.  And what if my flight was delayed?  Then I would have killed myself only to arrive in time for the level 3-performance and a heartbroken child in tears.

I considered going for only Friday night.  I would miss the Class Dinner, but it was better than nothing.  If I flew home on Saturday, I could have even made the ¡Fiesta! That plan included arriving a few days early so I could visit my family in NYC.  But it added taxis and train rides to the journey, which made the return trip almost 10 hours — for one night!

“Who goes to their college reunion anyway?” Joe said.

“I do.”

It is true that I have never been one for that type of rah rah experience, especially when I was a college student.  I didn’t go to orientation or freshman weekend.  I was busy smoking cigarettes and wearing black.  But when the invite for my 15th arrived in the mail, I decided it was time to change.  I have to admit, there was nothing like pulling onto campus for the first time since graduation.  I danced all night in The Mug, then crashed in my assigned dorm room on the Quad.  I ran in the morning on my favorite trail.  The thing I loved most about it was the feeling that everyone really just knew me.  I wasn’t compelled to beef up my accomplishments (lie!), or get all fancy and dressed up.  On the first night I said to a guy I knew vaguely, that attending this reunion was perhaps the craziest thing I’d ever done.  There I was, 2500 miles from my kids, riding a golf cart from one party to the next, acting like a goofball with people I hadn’t seen in 15 years.  It was a weekend I will never forget.

This year those “accomplishments” trumped.  Ronan’s baseball team was in last place going into the playoffs, so I didn’t even consider the risk of missing his championship game.  But those boys pulled it off and brought me to tears.  While part of me wishes I had danced the weekend away with Tiny, Mona, Hill, Laman, Ling (and everyone else who keeps posting how awesome and fabulous it was (You look great in the pics, btw — all of you!)), I would have regretted missing this weekend that my children will never forget.  Don’t worry, I had a drink (several) in honor of the class of ’91 while I was raising money for the kids’ school.  It was supposed to be a weekend about me and my class, but instead it was all about the graduates of 2018 and 2021.

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’91 in The Mug

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Inappropriate?

inappropriate

by Lindsay Gallagher on 06/7/2011

“We’re under the sheets and you’re killing me,” Tess sang along with my new Ellie Goulding album while we drove to the Valley.  I was hoping she didn’t understand the words.  “I know this song is inappropriate,” she said. “But I like it.”

We arrived at her acting class when the teacher was explaining pratfalls. “Did you see the Modern Family when that actor fell in the kiddie pool and then climbed out only to fall in again?” he asked me.

“Yeah, that was hilarious,” Tess jumped in, revealing that she had watched that very episode, which according to my Tivo menu was “Iffy for 13+.”

“You can’t watch Modern Family,” I’ve said.

“Why not?”

“It’s inappropriate.”  But then we’ve plopped down in front of the tube together and laughed.

You should hear the things they learn at school: “Do you know that song, “I am the Walrus?”” Tess said one day in the car.  “The Beatles wrote that when they were on drugs.”

“Who told you that?” I asked.  She named names. (I won’t)  Needless to say, a long conversation ensued for which I was not fully prepared.

I will admit that I am influenced by what other parents allow, depending on the parents of course, and their children.  Like when Tess’s BFF was allowed to watch Mamma Mia! I love the little girl and the mom, so I rented it for Tess.  Do you know what that movie is about?  Thankfully the sex-with-three-men part was eclipsed by the singing and dancing (And Meryl Streep’s air guitar!).  But still, I had some explaining to do.

Recently Tess sat next to me on a plane to New York while I watched The King’s Speech. “Why are you crying?” she asked.

“He had such a sad childhood,” I sobbed.

“Can I watch it?”  she asked.  “All of my friends have seen it.”

“Who?”

She named names again.  It was an impressive list.

There is one scene with a lot of cursing, but other than that the film seemed innocuous enough to me, plus, I loved it.  I figured if Tess could hang through over an hour of a dry period film about stuttering, she deserved the weird pay off of seeing a king curse.

“I saw The King’s Speech.” Tess now tells everyone she meets. “There’s this one part that has the F word in it like a hundred times and he says it in like a hundred different ways.  It was really good.”

Still, I think that movie was fine for her to see.  Modern Family, not so much.  But I have to admit, I like watching that with Tess.  For better or worse, she gets it.  And it’s soooo much better than Sunny With A Chance.

My parents used to let us watch Saturday Night Live.  I was six years old in 1975 and there was no Tivo, so that must have been past my bed time, right?  It’s one of my fondest memories.  I loved the Cone Heads and John Belushi with his Samurai sword.  And there was Landshark – my favorite – which I appreciated even more because my mother had taken my brother and me to see Jaws II.  We begged and she caved and we got exactly what we deserved:  it was awhile before ocean-swimming was on my to-do list.  But I still love that flick.

Maybe that’s a big part of my decision-making process:  the quality of the thing.  Last summer Tess was in a production of West Side Story that was “adjusted” for her age group so everyone lives in the end.  I couldn’t help myself – I ran out and rented the movie, made a bowl of popcorn and we watched in awe, even Ronan, who protested, but couldn’t tear himself away.  Jerome Robbins, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim – and Natalie Wood – I mean, come on.  Sure, there’s sex and murder and an almost-rape (definitely the most difficult scene to explain/gloss-over, especially since Tess was cast as the victim, Anita), but what a masterpiece.

“Are you crying, Mommy?”  Tess asked when Maria slumped over Tony’s dead body.

“Of course I’m crying,” I said, sopping up my tears with sleeve.  ”They didn’t have to die.  What a waste.  That is what happens when people hate each other just because of where they’re from.”  Ronan got me a tissue so I could blow my nose.

“Is it appropriate?” another mother with a daughter in the show asked.

“Probably not.  But we loved it.”

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Tiger Mom on a Snowboard

Riding Chair 23 with Joe earlier in the day

Ronan and I rode up Mammoth’s Chair 1 together at the end of Memorial Day.  It was sunny and I could see skiers and snowboarders making their way down the mountain.  Ronan had been shredding the lower half all day.

“Lets go up to the top,” I said, watching Chair 23 carry skiers and boarders to the peak.

“No Mom, I’m not ready,” Ronan said.

That’s mature, I thought.  He knows his limits, that’s a good thing, right?  Smart.  “Awe, come on, it’s the last run of the day.  You’ll be so psyched.”

“No Mom, I’m not ready, sorry.”

We swayed on the chair as it carried us along, our snowboards swinging beneath.  “I’ve been up there all day and it’s really nice.  It’s easy.  You can do it.”

“No Mom, I don’t want to.”

That’s good, the kid can speak his mind.  Caution is an asset.  He had a great day, why ruin it?  “You’ll be stoked man.  You’ve never done Cornice.”

“I’ve skied it.”

“I know, but you’re a snowboarder now.  This is the day, man.”

“It’s windy.”

“No, it’s nice up there.  It’s all soft now.  It won’t be like this for another year.”

“So I’ll do it next year.”

We unloaded.  Where there had been ice the day before, there was slush.  It was soft and easy and kind.  We sat down to strap in.  I looked at Chair 23, the legs of its last few customers dangling over the bowl.

“This is the final run of the season, dude.  Let’s hop on 23 and come down Cornice.  You can do it.”

“I’m sorry, but I don’t want to.  I’m sure.”

“Ok.” I tightened my bindings and shifted my weight towards the bottom of the hill.

“I’ll do it,” he called out from behind me.

“Awesome.  Let’s go,” I said, flipping around onto my toe edge and taking the lead.

Of course, I chose the worst possible route to the lift.  We had to skid over a patch of rocks.  “It’s just bad right here,” I said thinking:  What kind of mother forces her kid up onto an 11,000’ peak?   What if he gets hurt?  But it’s the last run of the season.  And he’ll be so thrilled.  It’s one run, but if he conquers it, that powerful feeling with stay with him for months.  

“The lift is the scariest part,” Ronan said when we loaded onto the 3 person chair, which is completely above the tree line and climbs up a sheer wall of snow and rocks.

“That means the hardest part is almost over,” I said.  “We can come down Scotty’s if you want,” I said, considering our options.  “Looks nice and flat in there.”

“No, I want to do Cornice.”

“Bigger bragging rights?”

“Yeah.”

Then the clouds rolled in.  And the wind picked up.  Shit! I told him it would be warm.

“Looks like we got lucky,” I said, a few more minutes and it won’t be as nice.  We hit it at the right time.”  I said, with my my fingers crossed.

We dismounted without incident, which is not always the case on a snowboard, and headed out to the left.  “It’s easy,” I said.

The wind blasted us towards the edge.

Ronan in whiteout conditions at top of Cornice — pissed!

“It’s ice!” he screamed.  I can’t believe I let you talk me into this.  This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever done.”

“It’s all good.  Just skate towards me.”  I am a terrible mother.  And also, a terrible reader of snow!  One day of sun does not corn snow make!

“Wait!” he screamed because I had skated too far ahead.  See, sucky mom!  

“Ok, strap in,” I said.   A strong gust sprayed him with icy snow.

“This was the worst idea,” he screamed over the roar of the wind.

“No, it’s fine.  We just need to drop in.”  The entrance to the run was about 200 feet of solid ice away.  “Just stay on your toe edge.”     

I went and he followed, but he took a higher traverse, which meant he was farther from the skiable snow.

“This is the worst ever,” he yelled at me.

“I’m sorry.  You’re right.  I was wrong.  But listen, all you have to do is go as far as you can on your toe edge.  Go all the way into the bowl.  Look, it’s soft down there.”

“I can’t believe I let you talk me into this.”

“You want me to go ahead or wait?”

“Wait!”

So he got up on his toe edge screeched across the ice.

“Stop there!” I yelled, following behind.  I hope those moguls aren’t ice, too.  If they are, we’re fucked.  He will hate me forever and I will deserve it.  “See, it’s fluffy.”

“It’s all moguls!”

“Yeah, I know.”   It was.  All bumped up.  Snow on top, ice in between.  But we were in the lee now, so at least I could hear Ronan telling me off.

“How could you bring me here?”

“Cause it’s fun,” I said, with a cheerful grin.  This is my fault – no way I can fall apart too.  “I’ll go ahead so I can videotape it.”  (Btw – super trick) I took a few turns down hoping to find an easy route.  No such luck.  “You can do it, buddy,” I screamed up to him with my iphone raised.  “Rolling!”

He skidded out on his first turn and slid on his tush maybe ten feet.  Bless his heart for not cursing at me.  I would have cursed at me.  He screamed, but he didn’t curse.  “This is horrible.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll delete that take,” I said, trying to make light of the situation.  We were looking at several more such turns before we were out of the expert terrain and he’s too big to carry.  He sat on a mogul and stewed while I sped ahead to get my camera ready for another shot.  “We can put it on YouTube,” I yelled to him as I swished down.  “Rolling!”

Then that little bugger got up and rode down that hill.  He passed me, then turned and turned and only fell once.  I shot it and watched and cheered.

“Mommy,” he said when I caught up to him, “That was so fun.  You were right.  You were so right.”

re: video:  excuse my voice (go ahead and lower your volume) and my camera work.  I’m on a snowboard on that hill, too, and it’s a lot steeper than it looks.  😉

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Bad News Bs

Our season is over.  That is, the Westside Tennis League season.  For those of you who are just tuning in, I won’t be bragging about lots of wins – it was not that kind of year.  We started out with 5 players when most teams have 8.  We lost and lost and won and lost and lost.  Did I mention that I was the captain of this team?  Oh, yes, it was I who led my players into the fray.  I even bounced our pro off of line-up detail so I could carry all of the blame myself.  Fun times.

Finally we found our wonderful 6th.  Aside from the fact that she’s good and tall and fun and funny, I no longer had to call twelve women every week begging for someone to sub.  Around the middle of the winter (yes, we have winter in LA – with record rainfall this year) one of our teammates instituted the “Fun Bus.”   Just cause we didn’t have victories to celebrate didn’t mean we couldn’t get drunk.  😉

A friend of mine who was a renowned college athlete even suggested tying-one-on when I told him of my tennis woes. “We used to drink the night before big games,” he confessed.  “I’ll tell you, once we’d gone there together, I knew my teammates had my back.”

It kind of worked for us, too.  Things started to turn around.  There were even days when we “swept,” winning all three lines.

We played a total of 19 times this year, facing the real housewives of the greater Los Angeles area.  Some matches were horrible (Malibu), some were easy and fun (Marina), one Tuesday morning, we even had to call the LAPD.  (A crazy man attacked our opponents when we played at Stoner Park) There were generous line calls and stingy ones.  There were nice women, and obnoxious ones:

“Bitches on wheels,” one teammate said while we were carpooling to Beverly Hills Country Club.  (Not actually in Beverly Hills)

There were cracked public courts (best players) and infamous country clubs (best snacks), hard balls and moon balls, lobs, slices, little spinners that drop just over the net.  Ugh.  But there were also some great points played, when we knew what to do and did it, when we had it going on.

My teammies gave me a little gold bee, because we’re the B1 team.  You know what?  Low stats and all, I wear that bee with pride.  We didn’t fall apart – we soldiered on.  My guess is next year we’ll soldier on again.

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Coffee Recovery

It’s been almost a month.

The first day sucked.

On the second day, I freaked out when I discovered that Ronan hadn’t carefully followed his social studies assignment.

It can be as long as we want,” he said.

I practically hyperventilated when the teacher told me she’d handed out a long list of specifics.

“I asked you if there was a list,” I whined.  “I’m just..I’m so…mad.”

“Um, Mom,” he said. “I think it’s because of the coffee that you’re so upset.”

“No,” I said, clutching my head.  “Well, maybe.”

After that, I just got over it.  (And his “Letter” was fine, btw)

Within a week, my coffee cravings were gone.  I was able to brew a pot for Joe when he needed to get up for a baseball game and for my mother when she was visiting.

“You’re not going to stop me from drinking coffee, are you?” she said.

I bought myself some “Fancy Jasmine Green Tea” from Pete’s Coffee.  No it’s not as macho as my pot of black coffee, but it tastes good and it’s warm and has a comforting ritual of its own.

The unexpected upside is that I am no longer exhausted in the afternoon.  For years, I’ve wanted to take a nap at 3:05pm – the exact moment that the carpool loads into my car.  Since I’ve switched to tea, that sudden crushing exhaustion is simply gone.  I’m not sleeping more hours, in fact, it seems like I need less sleep now.  When I do sleep, I don’t wake up as often or as soon after I’ve gone to bed.  The other night, I even made it all the way to 5am – a record since Ronan was born.

As far as the rest of that horrid heartburn diet, I’ve had trouble.  It was spring break, which still seems to mean PARTY to me, even though I’m not a college sophomore.  Then it was Easter, with its divine jellybeans: Sweet Tart, Starburst, Jolly Rancher…   And those Cadbury eggs!  I’ve tried not to eat late at night, but that was tough on vacation, which is why, just as Jennifer predicted in her comment:  Omeprozole has indeed become my new best friend.  I even used a coupon yesterday – something I never do – to buy it in bulk.

Because I’m not as tired since I switched to tea, I am generally in a better mood, so I’m nicer to my kids.  That alone makes my heart burn less.  🙂

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Shedding Dilema

Last week I bought my kids snowboard rigs at Wave Rave – snowboarding mecca – in Mammoth, CA.  My twentysomething sales guy, Jeff, who like everyone who works there lives for the ride, helped me with the math: 20% off the boards and boots, 10% off the bindings, $9 stomp pads.  Decent snowboard rentals (which hardly exist for little riders like Tess) are $25 a day, maybe $20 if you strike a deal, so between the two kids, buying gear will save money in less than a season.  On that day, April 20th, we were still looking at seven more days this year on the hill –Mammoth is open till the Fourth of July.  Wave Rave had the right boards (long enough to grow into), boots that were a size too big (I packed them with inserts to get them to fit for over a year), even pink bindings for Tess.  I just couldn’t say “No.”

“So we’re doing it?” Jeff asked, as he pulled the bindings out of the boxes.

“Yeah, okay,” I said, slipping down onto the carpeted bench.  I was in a shopping stupor, feeling like I’d overindulged.  “I feel like a bad parent.”

“Why, dude?” Jeff said.  We’d been together for an hour (after I’d driven 5 hours up from LA.) He’d seen me dial Joe’s cell, pace up and down the stairs, fondle the boards – struggle.

“Because it’s too much,” I said,  “Brand new gear for kids – it feels wrong.”

“I get what you’re saying,” he said, and I could tell from the way he bobbed his ratty head of hair that he really did.

“It’s not as special if your mom just buys it for you.”

“Yeah man, I was so psyched when I bought my first new ride,” another sales-shredder piped in.  He had a severe google burn and had told Ronan, who he wasn’t even helping, which length board to get. “Dude, go with the 136.  You’ll be bumming if you get the 130.” 

Jeff had the boards in his hands.  We stared at each other and pondered.  It was probably the first parenting pondering poor Jeff had ever endured and he took it like a champ.  We agreed on board technology and riding style and the blissful merits of our great California hill.

“The thing is,” he spoke up, “Having your own gear is just so much better.  It’s the same everyday.  They’ll get so good. They’ll be stoked.  You’ll be stoked.”

“You’re right.  You’re totally right.”

He was.  I skied for years, but I don’t mind renting skis now.  Yet I can’t imagine renting a snowboard.  My rig is just so personal. It’s like a pair of sneakers or a guitar, scratches and all.  Plus, if we own the gear, I never have to deal with kids’ rentals again.  Sure, the WASP in me had a hard time with the excessiveness of it all, even though it was a pound-wise choice.  But the snowboarder in me prevailed.

I was expecting Joe to read me the riot act and began my email with a long list of pros, right down to the fact that I can easily sell the gear when they grow out of it since I bought it new.  But instead he replied:  “That’s so fr’kn cool.  How could you not?”

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No Coffee :-(

I should be thankful that what I have is acid reflux since the other maladies that cause chest pains are really scary.  I was kind of hoping, when I found out a month ago that I was neither in cardiac arrest nor suffering from a blood clot in my lungs, that the chest pains would disappear, that it was all in my head.  But it wasn’t.

“Are you having a heart attack?” An opponent asked me after a tennis match last week.  I was pressing on my sternum, rubbing the spot where it hurt.  I was still waking up in the middle of the night with this gnawing burn.  And there was the issue of my voice, which I lost herding 8 year-olds last December.  Since then, it has slowly dwindled down to a croaky squeak.  I can’t even sing along with Madonna, who has zero range.

“Why don’t you just stop talking?” Tess said when I complained.  Has she met me?

Of course, I got back on the internet and read all sorts of horror stories about hoarse throats left untreated.  So I went to the ENT.

“You have a node on your vocal chords,” he said after taking his little camera out of my nose.  (Most unpleasant!) “And you have acid reflux.”

“How do you know?”

“Your vocal chords are scorched from the acid.”

“How do I get rid of it?”

“You a big coffee drinker?”

“Oh my God.”

“You can have green tea.”

I slumped in his vinyl mechanical chair.  “I go to bed dreaming about my cup of coffee,” I said.

“It will only be hard for the first three weeks.”

He also prescribed speech therapy for the node.  “You’ll have to relearn how to speak.”

“It’s too much.  I can’t do all that.”

“You sound like Kermit.  You have to do it.”

He handed me a blue Xerox of the things I have to give up:  coffee, carbonated beverages, spicy food, fried food, tomatoes, citrus, alcohol – and yelling.

He took away all my favorites and I wasn’t allowed to scream.

Now I am at the end of day one.  No coffee.  Cold turkey.

I drank the green tea this morning.  It was miserable.

“Maybe it’s okay if you have just one cup,” Ronan said when he saw the look on my face.  He’s no fool.

But I don’t want to be on Prevacid forever.  The chest pains hurt and I am sick of sounding like a frog.

In my tennis clinic, I felt like I was running in tar.

“I could never give up coffee,” a teammate said.

“It’s horrible,” I cried.  “I’m trying to see the bright side of this.  It could be worse.”  A bunch of tears spilled out my eyes.  “But it really is awful.”  I started to panic:  My body has relied on coffee since I was in 9th grade –  will it even work without it?  What will make my heart beat?  How will I breathe?

I ate a handful of “sport” beans – jellybeans with B12, sugar and caffeine – that helped me level off.

Since then, I’ve had a strange kind of energy.  I’m not tired – I’m strung out.  I went on a cleaning binge, even tackling the paper pile.  I can’t sit still.  I’m on edge.

I really want to YELL!  But “ribbet” is all that comes out.

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