Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tiny Little Knives

My husband is starting to get sick of me. He's so tired of me complaining night after night about my friends. He has every right to be sick of me too. All I want to do is talk about them, well, really just vent about them.  Vent, vent, vent. All he wants to do is try to fix everything, you know, offer me solutions to how I could rectify these issues, issues that usually cause me to start all my sentences with “you’re not going to believe what she said.”  What he doesn’t understand is that I don’t want solutions, I want to talk about them. Who wouldn’t? Talking about your friends behind their backs is fun, and a stress reliever as well. I think it might even be good for you. My husband usually ends our conversations with a comment like. “I don’t understand why you are friends with this person” to which I reply, “ because  I really like her.” And right there, that’s the rub.
I know it’s not nice, but I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all done it at some point, I think most of us do it on a daily basis, at least I do. The tricky part is that if you vent to a friend about another friend, you’ll never really know if your snide little remarks made it back to the original ventee, thus simultaneously completing the back stabber circle of life and placing you in a precarious situation. If you vent to your husband or boyfriend, he is going to offer you unsolicited and unwanted advice. Who wants that? I just want to talk about my friends so I can temporarily get a false sense of superiority and righteousness and  then once I feel that I have sufficiently got it off of my chest, I will retreat. So, here’s the dilemma: Talking about your friends behind their backs to your husband, boyfriend, or partner is just not satisfying, and talking about them to other friends is just too risky. So, what is a really sweet, but two-faced person supposed to do? That’s where thecackle.com comes in. Post comments about whatever the hell annoys you about your best friend, or your cubicle mate, or all those stay at home moms with their pilates bodies who stand outside the elementary school wearing their capri pants, sporting their blonde, stacked bobbed haircuts while they wait to pick up Hunter and Braden and Braxton. Avoid the confrontation, but make it public (well, as public as thecackle.com is at this point) and get a sense of satisfaction from stabbing your friends in the back with tiny little knives. Make their ears ring so badly they'll think they have tinnitus. And remember, it’s good for you.

Talk to you soon (or maybe about you soon!),


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Betsy Ross and the Alpha Mom

Remember back in the day when a school book report consisted of a short summary of the book and a little blurb telling what you thought of it? Nowadays book reports require so much more. In addition to the written portion, the kids have to complete some sort of project, like a poster, or a diorama.  Those of us who have been down that road with our kids know how time consuming and stress inducing it can be. And not for the kids.

I have a third grader who is now on her third year of book reports. In first grade she came home after presenting her poster on Magic Treehouse: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and declared her project “the worst in the class.” She went on to explain, “All the other kids did really cool projects with their moms. You were supposed to do it with me!” This was news to me.

In second grade, another book report came around, and it didn’t go any better. For women’s history month, the kids were supposed to read a book about a famous woman in history. My daughter chose a book on Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables, which was an obsession in our house at the time. They could write two paragraphs, complete a diorama, or create a “Guess Who” book. She chose to do the paragraphs. The day she turned it in she came home in tears and, like the previous year, declared her project “the worst.” It turns out the son of my favorite Alpha Mom, we’ll call him Ryan, did his report on Betsy Ross. He came in dressed as Uncle Sam, and his mom brought in a homemade cake she had decorated like the American flag. A week later I saw the kids coming out of school with their graded projects. I was stunned by some of the museum-worthy posters, and the dioramas that were nothing short of architectural feats. It finally hit me. Bigger is better. Over-the-top is the standard. Total parental involvement/takeover is key.

Well, it’s third grade, and another book report is due today. This time they had to  create a gift for a character that could be put to good use in the story. The gift had to be handmade, placed in a box, and wrapped with handmade or store-bought paper that somehow relates to the story.  My daughter chose the book White House Whiteout, about three kids who try to help the President’s daughter get her kidnapped dog back. They end up getting kidnapped themselves, caught in a snowstorm, and rescued by snowmobilers. (Not Anne of Green Gables by any stretch of the imagination, but hey, at least she’s reading.) She decided on a cell phone made of Legos as her gift. It was going great, until she started thinking about the box. For me, the next few days were an exercise in dashing her dreams. First I told her it’s impossible to rig up an artificial snow machine to place inside the box. After she got over that, I had to refuse to buy the Cricut scrapbooking machine that retails for $129.00, and its snowflake cartridge for $21.00. Finally, my downtrodden daughter settled on 4” X 4” pieces of white card stock that would be folded and cut on the edges to make old-fashioned snowflakes.

She’s at school right now with her project. In my fantasies a glowing, self-assured girl comes home and says, “It went great. I’m really happy with what I turned in, and I’m even happier that I did it all by myself. ”  But I’m a realist. I’m bracing myself for a tearful description of Ryan’s project. I’m thinking it’s a box wrapped in handmade scratch-and-sniff paper. And the gift? Maybe a hand-carved music box that plays a few original compositions. Or something voice-activated, like a robot with special powers. Or better yet, a bronze sculpture of a mom who makes life less hard for the characters, and who serves them hot chocolate and sugar cookies when it’s all over.

I wonder if Betsy Ross had a mom like that.

By Tonia Peters