Thursday, January 22, 2009

Parent games

I just came back from a long weekend at Disney World with several other families. I like to be around other families with kids. They help me realize that all 'tweens are hormonally pumped and prone to going from excited to miserable to bored to happy to morose to loving within about 2.67 seconds.

It dawned on us that we could make up a pretty good drinking game with our kids - you know, every time someone whines about bedtime you drink a shot, and every time someone tells you you're mean you take another. But we realized we'd all be falling down drunk all of the time, which isn't conducive to decent parenting.

So here's a parental drinking game with a twist - every time your kid does one of the following, you reward yourself. It's a win win situation. The kids are still rotten, but you're too pampered to care:

* Whenever your kid says "I want" or "Can I have" or "You have to buy me," eat an M&M. (Make sure you've bought the extra-large bag. You should go through it in about three days.)
* If you ask your child to do something and she replies along the lines of "just a minute" or "I'll do it later," give yourself a five-minute internet break. (These can be saved up and used together.)
* If your preteen daughter says she hates her hair, put $5 in a jar. You should have your next family vacation paid for in a month.
* Every time you find a piece of outgrown clothing that still has tags on it, donate it to charity and buy yourself something brand new. You deserve it - and you know you'll actually wear it.
* Each time an expensive item gets misplaced (Ipod, Nintendo DS, etc.), book yourself a manicure.
* Give yourself a cookie every time your child says "I need help with my homework!" If it's said in a whining tone, make sure the cookie is chocolate.
* Whenever your child complains about the dinner you prepared, plan on going out to dinner the very next night. Leave the kids at home with a mean babysitter and a box of Kraft mac and cheese.
* Count the stuffed animals. Put aside a dollar for each one you find. You and your spouse should be able to afford a luxury vacation (sans kids) by Wednesday.
* If your child proclaims that you are the meanest mom ever, book a full body massage. You've earned it.
* If you manage to go a week without yelling, run to the nearest emergency room. Something is obviously wrong with your children and they should be checked out immediately.
* If your spouse suggests that the kids would be much better behaved if he were in charge, roll your eyes. Then book yourself a weekend away at an expensive resort, so he gets a taste of time alone with the little darlings and you get a taste of time alone.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Oh say can I see?

There's a name for women like me. No, not that name. Not that one either.

I'm an emerging presbyope. (And here you thought I was a Methodist.)

Presbyopia, for those of you who aren't of a certain age, is a condition that occurs when the lens of your eye isn't as flexible as it used to be. You can't focus on things like you used to, and ironically it's the close stuff and the little print that drives you nuts.

Back when my mom was an emerging presbyope, she simply opted for bifocals. No biggie. My mom had been wearing glasses for years. What's an extra line in the lens? But I'm different. I wore glasses between the ages and 8 and 16, and I don't care to explore that world again. The world isn't kind to an 8-year-old in dork frames.

My vanity forced me to save my babysitting dollars when I was 16 years old to buy my first pair of contact lenses, and there's been no looking back, at least no looking back through rose colored glasses or wire rimmed frames. I don't do glasses. I look like a dork in glasses, even the dork frames that are supposed to be cool. I absolutely cannot abide the idea of glasses.

My optometrist is a patient guy, and he's all about exploring the options. He sent me home with bifocal contacts that drove me absolutely bat poop crazy. He suggested monovision, where one eye is corrected for distance and the other for close work, letting the brain figure out which eye to use when. Amazingly, this worked for about a year. But time marches on, over my face and eyeballs, and the words on the page aren't as clear as they used to be.

The optometrist suggests going back to glasses. My eyes aren't that bad anyhow - I can read just fine without contacts. He says I can wear glasses to drive and in my daily errands, and just take them off to read. He even suggests (gasp) going with bifocals, because "it's time."

I decided to take another route. I bought a $2.99 pair of readers to help me with the little type. Amazingly, they work wonderfully. But nobody told me how reading glasses come with little invisible legs, because they're never where I want them to be.

I suppose I'm going to have to cave and get glasses. I can't walk around squinting or deal with headaches much longer. Thankfully, today's frame options have come a long way since I was an eyeglass wearer, back in the early '80s when frames were huge and often included a little sticker in the corner. (Yes, a sticker. Mine was a flower.)

My friends and I like to sit around talking about how different our middle-aged selves are from our parents. We're so much more active than we remember our parents being. In our minds, at least, we're much cooler as well. But our bodies haven't gotten the memo. Sometimes in order to see clearly, you have to adjust your expectations.

Besides, all this squinting can cause wrinkles. Maybe glasses aren't such a bad idea after all.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

What the cell?

I caught a segment of CNN this morning promising to tell me how to save money on my phone bill. As someone who likes to spend, um, save money, I listened intently. The tip: Get rid of your land line and use your cell phone only at home.

I must be AT&T's dream come true, because I am going to cling to my land line until the lines shrivel up and turn to dust under the ground. Why do I want to keep a land line? Let me count the ways:

1. Cell phones sound horrible. A typical conversation includes breaks and statics. This is a minor annoyance when you're calling home to ask if you need to pick up toothpaste while you're at Target. But I'm a writer. I'm trying to get a complete quote out of someone who's voice keeps going in and out, depending on whether he's driving under a tree.

2. Speaking of, the whole talking while driving thing drives me nuts. (No pun intended.) My husband has graciously pointed out that I'm not the greatest driver anyhow, so he suggests I stay off the cell phone while driving. Point taken. But, what happens when I'm driving and the phone rings? I look and see my kid's school on the caller ID, so I assume she's been hurt and is en route to the emergency room. I almost crash my car trying to grab the phone, only to hear a recorded message reminding me of tomorrow's PTO meeting.

3. Cell phones have cut into our right to be left alone some time. Back in the Stone Ages, people had a healthy respect for a home phone number. You rarely received a call from work after hours, unless it was an emergency. Nowadays, my husband gets phone calls at 3 a.m. from people who are having a work crisis. I say that 20 years ago, that crisis wouldn't have been a crisis because nobody had cell phones and nobody would dream of calling someone at home at 3 a.m. They just waited five hours and THE WORLD DID NOT END.

4. Sometimes I need to be unreachable. I know, I know, I have the right to not answer the cell phone when I'm out and about. But a ringing phone causes a Pavlovian response, where I panic unless I find out who's calling me and why. For instance, suppose I'm killing time at Target, which qualifies as therapy for most mothers. The phoen rings, and it's someone from "home," so I assume someone had an accident and is en route to the hospital. I answer the phone, only to find out that my daughter needs me to come home right away because she needs a ride to Shelby's house and Dad's busy mowing the yard. Even if I tell her she's going to have to wait, the conversation has added just enough guilt to my Target trip to limit its therapeutic potential.

I understand that the younger generation doesn't have such hangups, and I begrudgingly acknowledge that someday I'll be calling my adult children on their cell phones. I'll have to endure staticky conversations if I want to talk to them. I get it. But I'm not giving in, not yet. Even if I didn't have the reasons I listed above, I have one reason I will cling to for years: My 11-year-old informed me that boys don't want to call her on the landline, because they feel funny about the risk of talking to one of her parents who might answer the phone first.

Yeah, I'll be paying for that land line for a while.