Midsummer Night Moonlighting

It’s 2:30 am, and the alarm clock jolts me from a deep slumber. Although freakishly early to be starting the day, I need to get out of bed and get ready for work.

But there’s a highly important mission that I must first accomplish.

I tiptoe into a dark, hazardous room. Why isn’t there any Caution tape surrounding this disaster area? And not even so much as a nightlight to illuminate my treacherous path?

A massive pile of Legos that rivals Mount Everest in magnitude litters my path, and there’s simply no way around the obstacle.

Lego Darth Vader, with his evil red light saber drawn menacingly, doesn’t miss a beat.

I stifle the urge to scream as I misjudge my next step.

I’m fairly certain I just irreparably injured my pinky toe. Then my entire left foot, tingling with the sensation of a thousand angry needles, goes completely numb.

A child stirs from the peaceful world of Dreamland.

I silently drag my numb-footed self over to his bed, and gently but thoroughly rummage under his pillow in search of the hidden gem.

The child squirms and groans.

“Just wanted to say goodbye before I head out to work!” I whisper.

Like a wary cat, he cracks one eye open and squints at his space shuttle alarm clock.

“It’s 3 o’clock! Let me sleep or I’ll lick you!” he mumbled.

Lick me? Really?

Clearly, he must think it’s his brother. Would he really lick me?

Another tingling sensation startles me, this time in my hand.

He bit me!

A knee-jerk reaction bitch-slap sends his Teddy Ruxpin face first into the wall with a resounding thud.

My sweet son, oblivious to the chaos, has fallen back asleep.

I don’t particularly resemble Tinkerbell, the sweet little winged fairy. But apparently, there’s an unspoken agreement that having kids means you must be prepared to magically transform into the Tooth Fairy (or Santa Claus) at a moment’s notice, and be subject to potentially lethal working conditions .

(The L in Lego stands for lethal, in case you ever wondered.)

Underpaid and unappreciated, the Tooth Fairy is a freaking unsung hero.

She dodges perilously grooved Legos and stray FurReal penguins, monkeys, and unicorns.

She especially has to avoid inadvertently taking out the family pet in the middle of the night with one wrong step.

She suppresses the screams of agony when she makes a wrong move and discovers a Lego permanently lodged in her heel.

She risks her life in a virtual minefield, always one sole step away from breaking her neck.

And then there’s the injustice of having to witness the grotesque act of a child engrossed in determined bloody-pulp tooth yanking at the slightest telltale wiggle, as he sits on his bed with an arsenal of floss, gum, and a compact mirror.

All for a two dollar reward.

After another round of manhandling both the pillow and the oblivious boy’s head, I give up, stuff a little surprise under the pillow, and softly kiss his head.

Then I bolt out of the room faster than a fleeing fugitive.

A fugitive with a bum leg, anyway.

Hopefully, my son will forget about this whole encounter come morning. Or at the very least, he’ll think it was all a very strange dream where his teddy bear came alive in the middle of the night and attempted to jump through the wall.

The next morning, the boy still hasn’t even noticed tooth fairy had come.

He’d forgotten to put his tooth under pillow in the first place.

Oh, but it gets better.

His brother did remember to put the tooth under a pillow for him.

Well, under his own pillow.

Was he purposely intending to deceive the tooth fairy, or simply trying to help his brother?

Chalk it up to one of life’s greatest mysteries, I suppose.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to switch gears and trade my magical wand for a slightly less magical pallet jack.

Think you had a rough night? You and me both, buddy.

Think you had a rough night? You and me both, buddy.

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8 Shades of Madness: The Back to School Edition

(A Not-So-Helpful Guide to School Readiness)

Don’t panic… but when’s the last time you actually looked at your calendar? It’s still on June! Do you realize that school starts in less than a week? You need all kinds of… stuff… and… things… for school.

And now the fun really begins.

1) School Supplies

The list gets longer and more demanding each year. A two dollar generic binder? Yeah, right. Like that’s really gonna fly. This year, you’ll need a $20 Five Star zipper binder that your kid will yank the zipper right off with his teeth by the second day of school.

Oh, and they insist on red and blue folders only. You bought yellow? Really? And neon orange polka dot composition notebooks? The list specifically says black marble composition notebooks! And they say that reading is a lost art.

2) Clothing

Your kids have outgrown all of their clothing over the summer. The boys’ shorts could easily pass for Daisy Dukes, their jeans fit like capri pants, and every last shirt has mysteriously morphed into a cropped top. Their socks are either orphaned, mismatched pairs or holier than a slice of Swiss cheese.

As for the girls and the two things in their closets that actually do fit? Sooooo last year. Their skirts are all bordering on indecent after sudden growth spurts. (Expect a phone call from concerned school administrators on that one, with a polite “inquiry” about your questionable ability to serve as a role model for your children. What exactly is it that you do for a living, again?)

3) Tax-Free Weekend

Sounds promising, right? Who doesn’t like saving money, after all? And it truly is a fabulous concept, in theory… if your idea of a good time is reenacting Black Friday, school supply style.

So instead of fighting over the newest PlayStation that’s on sale, you now find yourself in a big box store, shoving your way through endless aisles of school supplies while vying for that last pack of Crayola crayons. Until common sense kicks in and you realize that knocking someone out with a left hook in front of a selection of Care Bear and Sesame Street backpacks is probably not worth going to jail for.

4) Drained Bank Account Syndrome

You know how people are always saying having kids isn’t cheap? Well, guess what? They’re right.

5) Locker Practice

As kids get into the higher grades, they are assigned a black hole with a lock to shove their 80 pounds of books/unwanted homework assignments in. Of course, they end up with the dreaded bottom locker. By the way, when’s the last time you had to actually open a combination lock?

So now you’re on all fours and panting like a crazed dog in heat, in an unsuccessful attempt to “demonstrate” how to open your child’s sadistic locker. You finally get it after 28 frustrating minutes and 37 infuriating attempts. And you are then rewarded for your effort with the equally enjoyable task of trying to cram a shelf evenly into that locker, because a lopsided shelf is supposedly as useful as no shelf at all.

6) Schedule Pickup/Teacher Assignment

Ah! The joy of walking with your child through their daily schedule, from class to class, a few days before school officially starts.

One class is undoubtedly outside in the portables, and somehow you take a wrong turn and end up lost in the parking lot, which is greater than or equal to 6 football fields in dimension.

7) Wakie, Wakie!

Having to get up early/go to bed early has been a challenge lately. Some mornings, you’re all still in bed at 9:00. And school starts at 7:45? Ha! This ought to be good. Time to invest in a rooster, perhaps?

8) Misery

After grumbling all summer about the incessant insanity and begging for school to start again soon, you’re actually secretly sad that school has started. The carefree days of eating ice cream for breakfast and hanging out by the pool have come to an end.

Silence is so overrated. It’s tempting to climb to the top of the staircase and dropkick a lamp on to the tiled floor below or go outside to pick a fight with the neighbor in an attempt to replicate the very chaos you’ve just spent the entire 12 weeks of summer trying to avoid.

Go ahead. Give it a try. I dare you.

Go ahead. Give it a try. I dare you.

Life’s a Pajama Party

No matter what time of the day, no matter the season, life is simply better in pjs.

Summer break is notoriously the worst offender. Sometimes I don’t even realize several days have passed since I’d last gotten out of my pajamas.

And there are definitely some lazy days when my boys and I just lounge around, eating animal crackers for breakfast and root beer floats for lunch.

I might need to get out more.

I do go outside every afternoon to get the mail. Occasionally, I even go to the trouble of putting on a more decent top or bottom to do so.

Then I get pissed if the mailbox is empty. All that ordeal for nothing.

But it’s like that saying, put on your good underwear in case you get in an accident and end up in the hospital.

I mean, do I really want to take that chance of stepping outside in my pjs and getting plowed down by the garbage truck?

Talk about crappy luck.

But I still do it anyway.

It doesn’t even matter what time of the day it is. Some mornings I get dressed, take the kids to school, and immediately slip right back in to my pajamas.

Come to think of it, I often do the exact same thing on weekends, after getting home from work at noon.

Huh.

Oh well. Comfort is so underrated.

And yet, it clearly comes at price.

Here’s a fun flashback from last August:

The Hotel Incident

After a late start this morning, I really needed coffee. Badly. So I decided to take my chances and stumbled into the hotel lobby in my pjs- hot pink penguin shorts and a thin tank top- only to walk right in to a business meeting in progress.

The room fell completely silent for a moment, and I figured it was already too late to turn back, so I proceeded to pour my coffee nonchalantly before strolling back out, like this was perfectly normal.

Once bitten, twice shy?

Not exactly.

I had another similar experience last Friday.

The Mailman Incident

It’s 9:30 am, and I look out the window to make sure nobody is around before stepping outside in a semi-sheer pajama top and jeans to empty the bin of recyclables and drop a handful of mail into my mailbox.

I fling open the front door and gasp in disbelief. The mailman is practically sprinting toward my door, unassumingly approaching the house with a package.

Oh no! He’s spotted me! It’s too late to run back inside and slam the door shut. And judging by his momentary pause, he’s equally taken off guard by my bedhead and/or lack of appropriate clothing.

I make a quick grab for the package. The flustered mailman actually has to ask me if I planned on mailing those letters clenched in a death grip in my left hand.

I’m sure this, too, passes for perfectly normal human conduct. In some other part of the universe, perhaps.

I could make this stuff up, that’s true. But I don’t have to.

I have a knack for experiencing these things first hand.

At least there is a silver lining in all this!

If I am in pajamas, then I don’t get out (or go very far past the driveway, anyway.) And if I don’t get out, surely I’m saving money on gas and other unnecessary expenses.

Right?

That’s got to count for something.

If my pjs had a cape, I could fly away from awkward situations.

If my pjs had a cape, I could fly away from awkward situations.

Southern Inhospitality

The struggle of being a former New Yorker/Washingtonian/Arizonan in an excessively friendly southern state is all too real for this girl.

One of the hardest things about being a transplant in the south is the challenging adjustment of having to talk to people. Especially extraordinarily friendly people, because they make me feel like a sorry excuse of an ill-mannered human being.

For someone naturally reserved, such unexpected conversations with enthusiastic random strangers can be grounds for a full-blown anxiety attack.

On an exceptionally good day, I can plaster on my most natural fake smile.

Then I cross my fingers, in hopes that my face won’t actually freeze that way. Especially if I am unintentionally bearing teeth.

When I’m out bicycling around my neighborhood and people go beyond the perfunctory wave and vocalize their greeting, or worse, initiate a conversation? What am I supposed to do?

The obvious answer, of course, is to make a run for it.

I go outside to throw away the trash in my pjs in broad daylight and the neighbor twelve houses down to the left with the terrifying horse-sized Scottish Deerhound smiles and starts waving a little too enthusiastically.

My typical instinct is to discreetly crouch down and scuttle away like the stealthy ninja that I am.

Suddenly, my brain is rapidly firing off panic signals.

Crap! You made eye contact! What were you thinking?

“How ya doing? Nice day out, don’t ya think?”

Great. Now the neighbor wants to make conversation while you’re standing outside like a fool in your Hello Kitty pajamas!

“A shame about that field being plowed down for another housing development, ain’t it? Where all them cows gonna go now?”

Might as well be standing outside naked. Maybe that’d be less awkward.

Must. Get. Out.

Quick! Excuse yourself! Get out of there NOW!

The last time I had been caught off guard by a neighbor, I managed to back out of there after a record time of 1 minute and 28 seconds…by pleading a bathroom emergency.

Classy, I know. But it was the best I could do after my overactive brain presented the pitiful excuse on a silver platter.

Yet once again, my brain is tasked with conjuring up “logical” excuses while my neighbor continues on with his riveting monologue about cows.

I’ve narrowed down my choices.

I have to go because:

a) Dinner is almost ready, and I need to go turn the oven off

b) The house is now on fire because dinner has been in the oven 5 minutes too long

c) The kids are beating each other within inches of their lives with Nerf swords

d) All of the above

While all of these seem like perfectly rational justifications, I naturally go with the most plausible one.

The house is on fire.

Not seeing the thick gray smoke?

Really?

Well, gotta go! See ya later!

I made eye contact, and now it's all over. This must be the end.

I made eye contact, and now it’s all over. This must be the end.