Archive for April, 2010

And Then There Were Two…..

April 29, 2010

I thought Mini-me would be the one to buck sibling tradition and keep the hair trimming to the professionals. Alas,  this was not to be…..

A few years back some neighbors got together on one of the cul-de-sacs to do an outdoor laser tag party.  It was Father’s Day and what dad doesn’t want to spend the afternoon shooting at his kids now and again and do no harm?  The laser tag company came to the neighborhood, outfitted everyone, and the games took place over three backyards that are really wooded.  This being our first outdoor laser tag party, the Jenkins clan came dressed like we were performing in Cirque du Soleil. Mini-me had on a lime green shirt, I was wearing stripes, and Big Daddy was sporting his bright orange golf shirt. Needless to say, we had to regroup, go back and change our clothes.  Once outfitted, we got our camouflage grease paint on and were ready to go.  Whirling Dervish, ever stylish, decided not to change her clothes, but paint her face. So my daughter was in a bright blue bikini with green, brown and black paint all over her face.  You go, Camo-Barbi! First, it was grownups versus the kids.  Grownups rule!  Then it’s Men versus the Women!  Estrogen rules with a few of the men making excuses about how their guns had misfired, blah, blah, blah!!  Then it was mixed teams.  I went down early in this round, shot by my own daughter.  Traitor!  The final round was every man/woman/child for himself (with a secret pact by the women to take out all of the men first!)  The final three survivors were Mini-me, his friend, and a 60+ year old Grandma, who crushed us all.

Upon arriving home, I set to removing the makeup from my children. This wasn’t dime store camo make-up, but army-issue camo paint, so it took a bit of elbow grease to remove.  Whew! Got the girls scrubbed off, removing a layer or two of skin in the process. At this point, I’m thinking I need an ice pack for my elbow, ace bandage or something.  Can one get tennis elbow from camo removal?  On to Mini. Last one and if I take a running start, may I’ll be done before he goes to college. Bring it on!

I’m a scrubbin’ and a scrubbin, his was on extra thick.  Cheeks and chin, done. Nose, done. Nothing left but the forehead and his browline. Almost there. Mini-me’s fussed that I rubbed too hard, but I am determined not to be taken down by some pesky military issue paint. Ha! What kind of mother would I be? Forehead done, bring on the brow.  Yes, there was only one when he left the house that morning.  Mimi-me had sported a unibrow for most of his life.

So, when I finally got through all of the camo makeup, I realized that something was amiss. My son no longer had a unibrow, but had ½ an eyebrow on each side. 

Apparently, someone in my son’s class had given him a hard time about his unibrow.  It really wasn’t that noticeable unless you got really close.  But Mini had decided to take matters into his own hands.

“Whaaaaat did you do?????”

“Mooom, somebody at school was teasing me about my unibrow, so I shaved it to make two!”

“How did  you–” Then it hit me.

The swath he had shaved was exactly the width of my bic shaver that I used to shave my legs.  The one that was hanging in the shower.  So instead of removing ¼ inch of hair between his brows to make two, he had removed 2 inches of hair, leaving him with ½ an eyebrow on each side. Mission accomplished. There were definitely two of them, hanging out there like quotation marks over the corners of his eyes.

 Well, he didn’t have to worry about a unibrow……. for a good long while.  That was for sure.

Four really is a charm.

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Does This Look Even????

April 20, 2010

There are certain activities where siblings following in each others’ footsteps is a GOOD thing; Olympians, Supreme Court justices, Nobel Prize winners, Astronauts.  There are other activities where the following in the foot steps things is not such a great idea at all. No, not so much.  Number1Son set the bar pretty high with his little foray into self-grooming, shaven head and all. Whirling Dervish and Glamour Rayz were the next to follow in their big brother’s footsteps.

Whirling Dervish has a head of whirling tight little corkscrew curls.  Hair-taming is always a contentious time on the Edge.  WD has even devised plans to avoid me so that I won’t brush the hair, preferring to look like an electrified troll doll and potentially suffer ridicule from her classmates than deal with her brush-wielding mother. Although she is getting better with age, quite a few tears have been shed over the years.  Glamour Rayz has curls too, but hers are bigger and only slightly less rogue than her sisters.

Glamour Rayz actually did a very nice job trimming her hair to the point where I almost didn’t notice (she had hit me with the 200-watt smile and the big doe eyes which threw me off a bit).  While pleased with her steady hand, I did impress upon her that there are professionals that cut hair and that she should stick to cutting paper so as not to remove an eye, or anyone else’s for that matter.  And yes, that qualifier about trimming other people’s hair needed to be mentioned….I know my daughter and I really didn’t want to have to call some child’s parents to tell them that GR had given them an asymmetrical ‘do.

When WD marched down this ritual path of self-trimming, she didn’t understand that her hair is longer, much, much longer, when it’s wet.  Imagine her surprise (and mine) when as her hair dried, it shrunk into its mop of tightly wound springs, leaving her, not with the row of bangs that she cut just above her brow line, but a row of pillow fringe that was sticking straight out like her own personal awning.

In an wacky coincidence, Whirling was, as her brother years before, due to walk down the aisle at a wedding in a fortnight. What IS it with my kids, haircutting, and weddings????

Did a lot of praying that the awning would grow to an acceptable length before the big day.  Alas, every last one of the hair gods was on vaca and out of cell phone range.  On the big day, I tried mousse, but the baby curls were running amok.  Added some hairspray. No dice. Had to pull out old school big guns and lay on some extra strength Dippity Do. That stuff could slick a baby hair down to within an inch of its life.  And Presto! Between the mousse, the hairspray and the “Do,” Whirling was shinier  the groom’s rental shoes and looked like I had rubbed the front of her head with a pound on bacon and topped it with some shellac for good measure.

I sat in the audience and as my Princess Whirling came down the aisle, all shiny and glazed, I hoped that the photographer’s photos would not be overexposed from the light reflecting off my daughter’s head.

But, my baby looked wonderful.More importantly…I WON! I beat down the errant curls.

Four kids, three hair cuts down.  it’s only a matter of time…

Bring it on, Mini-me, Bring it on!

A Little Off The Top…..

April 11, 2010

Note to Self–Don’t EVER say, “You need a haircut,” to a child unless you are on your way to the barber shop or the kiddie hair salon. I did once and woke up to a partially bald second grader.

“You need a hair cut,”  I said innocently after picking Number1Son up from the bus stop on a Friday afternoon. 

I woke up the next morning and went to the bathroom. When I got back to our bedroom and I saw two legs sticking out from my side of the bed, on the floor. “What are you doing down there—-Yowza!”  Number1 stood up while covering his head with his arms.  I saw scalp on most of the left side and one little curl at his hairline and did a sharp inhale. 

“Whaaaaaat did you do? Lemme see.”  He took his arms down and  I busted out laughing. 

“You said I needed a haircut,”  He cries. To which I reply, laughing , “I said you needed a haircut, NOT you need to give yourself a haircut.”

“Big Daddy, Big Daddy, wake up, look!”  BD rolled over, smiled, and chuckled.  I think Number1 was a little taken aback by our reactions, then he was embarrassed and told us not to laugh. “We’ve all done it son.  All kids do it,” BD reassured him. Nothing to do but laugh, really.”  I reassured him that I too had cut my own hair, and then laughed some more.  Number1Son wasn’t amused.

To add to the excitement of it all, Number1 was scheduled to have two staples removed from his head from an injury the previous week. So, we popped a hat on Number1’s head and off we go to the Dr.’s office.  Number1 took off the hat and the doctor got a gander at his self-grooming techniques. Te doctor smiled, “Wow! Keep your day job, young man and stick to cutting paper lest we see you in here for more staples.”

Since the whole left side was scalp and Number1 was due to be in a wedding in two weeks, Big Daddy had no choice but to shave his whole head.  “You look just like Daddy.”You look like the Golden Child,” I say. BD and I have another good laugh.  Number1 is still not amused.

Little did I know Number1Son was setting the precedent for his siblings.  All three of them.

Stay tuned….

Big Daddy and the Little Man

April 10, 2010

They say you marry someone who is like your parent of the opposite sex. It’s true, sort of.  The two men that I have loved most in my life couldn’t have been more different physically. My dad, aka the Little Man, was 5’6″ and dark chocolate brown. Big Daddy is 6’2″ and lightly toasted. But they were  both cut from the same personality cloth–caring, generous, loving, loud, vibrant, youthful. Good souls, both of them.

You could hear my dad laughing from a mile away. He was smart and funny and very easy-going.  He had a temper, but it never flared for long especially with me, as daddy’s girl.  With the batting of my lashes, I could get off punishment sooner rather than later.  He was always dressed to the nines in suits, or in tennis clothes, or dressed to play in his garden, socks on with his sandals.  When my Dad turned 50, my mom got him a green plexiglass skateboard that he would ride around our neighborhhood on. That was him, that was the Little Man.  My best friend.

When Big Daddy and I flew home so that he could ask my dad if he could marry me and meet the rest of the family, they took an instance liking to each other.  Well, almost instant.  As a member of a large extended family, the test for Big Daddy was meeting the crowd and withstanding the pressure.  If the Little Man, the aunts, uncles, and cousins (and there’s a ton of them) cracked on him, then him, then he was in like Flynn as the saying goes.  If they didn’t and didn’t talk to him much, we wouldn’t make it. Big Daddy took the razzing in good spirit, so it was decided that he was a keeper.

Big Daddy’s relationship with his dad was tenuous at best.  But he and the Little Man’s relationship blossomed.  My father taught Big Daddy how to cook.  They shared a deep love for music, for sports, for bar stools, for life, and for me.  My dad loved him just as much.  And I loved Big Daddy all the more for loving my daddy.

On one of our last trips home before we were to be married there, the three of us were getting into my dad’s car.  He asked me to drive, so I took the keys.  When we got out to the car, Big Daddy went to the back door to allow the Little Man to sit in the front.  After all, he was the elder and Big Daddy was raised right.  But the Little Man grabbed Big Daddy’s arm and said, while pointing at me, “No, you sit up here now.  Your place is beside her.” I beamed for the both of them.

 While we were growing up, the Little Man always said that he didn’t want any crying, that he wanted us to have a party for him when he died. My brothers, sister, and I dismissed it as crazy talk.  But when he died in 2000, that’s exactly what we did.  We celebrated a life well lived with great food, great drinks, great music, and lots of dancing, with family, laughter, and love. 

Just as the Little Man wanted.

Number1Son

April 9, 2010

My eldest child is my stepson, superhero name: Number1Son.  I came on the scene when he was 18 months.  He will be 17 this month.  Shortly after Big Daddy and I got married, Number1Son mother decided to move out of the area and take him with her. After that brief stint, he came to live with us. His mother eventually moved back to the area.  She and Big Daddy have shared custody ever since. We see him at family functions and attend his athletic events.

My emotions are mixed about Number1Son.  While I love him, and raised him as if I had given birth to him myself, I’m not sure about liking the person he has chosen to become.  We have always had a love-hate relationship, though he knows through it all that I do love him.  Frequently, due to work schedules, he was left in my care.  I was often left with the responsibility, but not the authority. I taught him how to dress himself, tie his shoes, to read.  I wanted him to be his best, so I pushed him.  But then I got, “You’re too hard on him.”  Expectations were all they were.  Growing up, he often played his parents like fiddles(and still does), never taking responsibility, usually leaving me to be the scapegoat whenever it was convenient.  At one point, difficult  and disappointing though it was, I had to let go.

When high school began for him, he chose to live with his mother full-time.  In our home, everyone has responsibilities.  There are expectations that you will do your best every day at whatever the endeavor, you will participate in the household, including its maintenance and upkeep, and you will be held accountable for your actions, all of them.  He took the easy route instead.

I have always seen glimmers of brilliance in Number1Son, which is the most frustrating thing.  He’s not dumb by any stretch of the imagination.  On the contrary, but rather than think for himself and do his best everyday, he has chosen follow the crowd, to just get by, not realizing that it will bite him in the butt later.  He could lead, but he’s choosing to follow.

I hope that he discovers his own brilliance sooner rather than later.

Things One Might Hear at the Edge…..

April 8, 2010

There are things one might overhear at the Edge on any given day…..

Mini-Me: “I like Latin better, It’s more gooder.”  Me: “Great, it will help with your English too…”

Whirling Dervish: “Aren’t I creatful?” Me: Huh? “Oh, the word is creative.”

Me: ” Stop stunning you’re sister, It’s not nice.”

Me: “Stop licking your brother, it’s gross.”

Me: “No you may not dry off in the dryer.”

Me: “Did you wash?” Any of the children: “Yeeees.  Me: “…with soap??? (insert cricket chirping here)

Whirling Dervish (on whining all the time): ” I whine, it’s what I do. Get over it.”

Me (to Mini-Me, while cleaning out his underwear drawer): “These have holes in them!: ‘Mini-Me:Yes, mother, where would I put my legs?”

Mini-Me (playing with my belly): “Mom, you’re so squishy!” Me: “It’s you and your sisters fault.”

Big Daddy(rubbing his belly): “Baby, you hit the lottery with me!” Me: “Is that so?”

Me:”Why is your athletic cup taped to your hockey stick???” Mini-Me:”It’s a hand guard, mom. duh.”

Me:”Pick your friends, not your nose.  And don’t pick your friend’s nose.”

Me: “Underwear and socks are to be changed EVERYDAY!”

Glamourayz (in the truck): “Close the windows! My eyeballs are wobbling back here!”

Hitchcock Revisited…..

April 7, 2010

I live in the woods and we’ve got all sorts or critters and creatures roaming the neighborhood. I love nature, I really do. But I love it outside in its own habitat, not in mine.  Especially, my truck.

I had gone to pick up my mother-in-law, Ma, the supergrandma, from the train station.  It was early June, so we had the windows down in the truck, getting some fresh air. As I am on the ramp to merge onto the highway, I see them.  The birds….

There’s three of them, flitting through the sky.  As Ma was starting to fill me on the goings  on back home, I saw the birds take a dive, looking like they were going to do a fly by right past my windshield.  I thought, “They’re awfully close….they’re not going to make it!”

Two birds shoot right across the windshield. The other, ends up in my truck…..and is fighting with my mother-in-law.  Everyone’s screaming: me; Ma; the bird; everyone.  It looked like a down pillow had exploded. There are feathers flying everywhere, so much so that I couldn’t see and had to pull off the road. 

I stopped the truck and my mother-in-law and I jumped out and ran around to the back. I stopped dead in my tracks and almost wet my pants.  Ma was standing there, her whole head was covered in feathers.  She looked like a bald eagle. She couldn’t see herself and I couldn’t stop laughing to tell her.  I pointed to the back window of the truck, then she saw herself with her feathered swim cap on.

After we finally stopped laughing, we had to figure out how to get the bird out of the car before he gave himself brain damage trying to fly straight through the front window. He kept trying to take off and kept hitting his head on the glass.  I opened the back of the truck to see what we could use.  I’m a mother of 4, there is always stuff in my car.  Mini pylons would have to do. She took one and I took one. Wearing them like Captain Hook rejects, we race back around to the front of the car, all the while feathers are flying off my mother-in-law’s head.  She could have given a great science lesson on molting.

After a few futile minutes of me and her shooing through the open windows and the bird still banging his noggin on the front glass,  I realized if she’s shooing from that side and I’m shooing from this side, the only direction the bird has to go is back further into the truck.  Not good. “Stop!”  I thought for a sec(tuition dollars at work!), “Got it!” I run around to her side of the car, but instead of wielding my cone-covered hand at the bird inside the truck, I tap the cone on the windshield.  Finally, he backed out and flew off. 

We closed the windows and turned on the airconditioner.  Environment be damned.

Weeks later, we were still finding feathers in the truck. 

Frickin’ nature.

Guaranteed……

April 6, 2010

I was at work the other day and had gone down to the cafeteria to get coffee, which is THE nectar of the gods if you were wondering.  I stroll up to the machine and put my cup under it and pull the trigger.  As I am doing so, this man is cussing under his breath about the lack of hot water and the bad service in the cafeteria.  Me, being the curious sort (nosey was more like it), turned to see what he was groaning about.  The hot water spigot on the coffee maker was broken, and in the mean time, the staff had put hot water in one of those carafes that you push down the top and the liquid comes out. Apparently, the carafe had run out of hot water as well.  Hence, the groaning man.  He turned to me since I was checking out his dilemma and started to complain to me about there being no hot water left and it was the same thing yesterday.  I guess he was looking for some sympathy from me, but I had none. I said to him that the carafe only holds so much water and is bound to run out eventually, while thinking, “It’s 10:30am.  Our cafeteria opens at 6:30am every day and if you came down here at 10:30 am yesterday and there was no hot water perhaps YOU should have brought yourself down here a little earlier and then you would have had some hot water.”  I told him just to ask and I’m sure they would get some more hot water.  I think he was a little taken aback that I was not on his side.  He then started to complain about the service.  To which I responded, “Perhaps they are doing the best they can with what they have.” He was stunned…..but he stopped complaining.

We all get up in the morning and have expectations about how the day will go, that it will go perfectly, to our liking, smoothly.  We get in our cars, get on the road, see the backed up traffic, and get frustrated and start ranting and raving, worried we’re not going to get to work on time.  Some people get to cussing and swearing, flippin’ the bird.  I do it too.  I think we forget that NOTHING is guaranteed, not even a smooth ride to work. We are not guaranteed to get the parking spot we want.  We’re not guaranteed that our children will turn out to be fantastic human beings no matter the effort that we put into trying to make them so. And then we’re quick to blame something or someone or get upset without perhaps knowing the full circumstances of the situation.  We seem to have no patience for other people, but want everyone to be patient with us. 

Take the hot water hound.  Nowhere did he mention aloud that perhaps he could have come down earlier to get his hot water since he knew from the day before that the water might run out later in the morning.  Nor did he acknowledge that perhaps the carafe wasn’t immediately filled because the staff either could have been doing something else and didn’t know it was empty or the cafeteria may have been understaffed and didn’t have anyone to stand there with baited breath to refill the carafe as soon as it was empty, so that when his highness came down, there would be water. We won’t mention the hot water dispensers on every floor in the building either for that matter. Nope, instead, he was upset because his perfect day wasn’t going as he thought it should.  He needed his hot water now.

Some things we don’t have control over, but how we respond says a lot about who we are as people. I am not saying that there are not times when people are intentionally not behaving properly and insist on ruining the day.  Misery loves company, there are some people , or even some situations that will do that.  But we should remind ourselves that we are part of something bigger.  Being good stewards of the earth is a big catchphrase of late. But what about being stewards of humanity?  

For instance, last summer while on vacation, I went to get tickets for a show.  When I got to the ticket booth, I could tell the young woman behind the counter was not having a good day.  She looked at me and tried to conduct the transaction, but her eyes filled with tears.  I could have proceeded forward and thought she was crazy and unprofessional for crying at the booth, or I could give her a moment to collect herself.  I chose the latter.  I told her to take her time, that I would wait. There, I think is the key, the waiting.  We are so used to a “I need it right this second” mindset, that we are so wrapped up in our own little worlds that we sometimes forget to be human beings to one another.  A few moments was all this young woman needed.  She gathered herself, cleaned off her face, and then was able to assist me.  She appreciated my patience, thanked me, and smiled.

 “Do Unto Others….”


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