Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Long List of Have To's

My son once misunderstood the lyrics to a really great praise and worship song called 'He is Exalted'. The Number One Son insisted that the song was 'He is Exhausted'. I'm fairly certain now that he was right. I know because I've been humming it all week; I am exhausted. It's finally happened. Turn me over; I'm done.

I desperately need an entire week of nothing. No one needing me, not having to, no schedule, no calendar, no craziness. Somehow, I don't see this happening anytime soon. My To Do list is so long it has subsections and a reference page with an index.

It's my own fault. You wear that Wonder Woman costume around long enough, and someone eventually is going to ask you to leap tall buildings in a single bound. It's inevitable. I just want one entire day of Nothingness. A day to stay in my jammies and eat leftovers and not answer one question or find one missing shoe or hair ribbon. I want one day to read and sit and be so quiet that it's almost like deafness.

I want to dance around in my living room to dreadful, loud 80's music for about an hour without having to explain the song, the lyrics, or what I'm doing. I want to cook dinner of all of MY favorite foods for a change. I want to watch a Mommy Movie (something without cartoons, happy endings, or people sitting in my lap asking for more popcorn).

I want to get my nails done, alone. I want to go to the movies, alone. I want to write without interruption. I want to read until I pass out and simply fall asleep where I am. I want an entire day without sports, practices, or homework. I want to drive into nowhere with the windows down and the sunroof open with The Cult on eleven and never once pass a station that features Taylor or Justin. I want to eat when I'm hungry and not when it's Time.

I'm so tired.

And then, in the very middle of my pity party, without a word The Husband sets iced tea at my left elbow. My son in the living room hot whispers to his little sister, "Turn that TV volume down! Mommy is WRITING!" One of my girls comes into the office and stands at the chair behind me, casually running her fingers through my hair, reading over my shoulder. My mother enters a few moments later and sets down a grilled cheese sandwich next to me and says, "I took care of dinner." Another baby girl sticks her head in the door and says, "I'm running a bath. I love you, Mommy." And it's enough for a deep breath, a quick adjust of my cape and tiara, and I'm back in Super Mom battle mode.

Maybe I'll just wear my IPod and settle for the dancing part while I save the world (or at least preserve my little corner of it). I am the Mother Bear. Hear me roar.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

If We Were Totally Honest

Random Stuff.  In light of my parenting rant, Alabama rant, and rude people rant, I've been thinking some Deep Thoughts ala Jack Handy. Here they are in no particular order.

1. Jesus Christ's parents lost him for three days. I can't do worse than that. It's all pretty much up from there. And he turned out okay. So, the Little Flower can't sit still in church. Big whoop. At least I know where she is.

2. You don't own your children; they belong to the Lord. You are simply the steward. As such, you shouldn't ask yourself, "What do I want for my children?" You should ask, "What does God want for my children."

3.The same collection agency has been calling my house for over a year asking to speak to someone who doesn't live here and has never lived here. I've had this phone number for four years. Every time they call I ask them to stop calling. She's not here. I don't know her. I give them my name and explain that I am not her, and she is not here. Still, they call faithfully three times a week. Now I make up stories to tell them for fun. No, she's not here, she's down at the rehab getting dried out. Nah, she took of last Sunday with a carload of Vietnamese people to parts unknown. Nope, not today, she's selling handmade turquoise jewelry this weekend in the desert with her boyfriend, Earl. Why don't you try back Monday and see if she made parole? I should be freaking out, but not so much anymore. I sort of look forward to it.

4. I've killed two bunnies driving to and from Jemison this week. I cried harder over that than I have over my going-to-Hell-lost relatives. How embarrassing.

5. I told the Number One Son that he probably shouldn't play baseball, because I didn't think he'd be very good at it. I told this story, because I didn't want to sit down at the ball field for 22 hours a week, three nights of practice, and all day on Saturday, not to mention having to deal with Little League Parents. (Probably saving everyone from the biggest Sister Sunshine Charlotte Moment ever.) That lost me some points in the Perfect Mommy Title, but I'm not the one taking out stock in 45 sunblock and complaining about spending 22 hours at the ballpark each week either. We call that a Win-Win in Johnson Land.

6. I don't care what you do to a Brussel Sprout, I'm not trying it. Stop asking me to try yours.

7. I had to buy reading glasses. Not to read, but because I couldn't see to take splinters and glass out of the Shorties. It was either clean better or buy glasses. So, I did the only thing I could do under the circumstances.

8. We live near a town called Clanton. Some of the locals call it Clan-TON. Some call it Clannon (like Cannon). Some call it Clant-on (like come on). For a year, I thought those were three different places. I'm not joking.

9. I'm a high school English teacher. I can't stand Ernest Hemingway or Thomas Pynchon. They stink. There, I said it.

10. I'd like my personal superhero music to be Fire Woman by the Cult, but it's probably Little Miss Can't Be Wrong by the Spin Doctors. That stinks too.

Are we there yet?

More Importantly

I am so sick of people being ugly on Facebook about sports.

I am an Alabama graduate. I bleed crimson and white. I couldn't love Alabama any more. And being a graduate, I'm actually qualified to cheer for the team. (Ahem.)

With all of that said, I don't give one good hoot about Cam Newton one way or another. He's an excellent player who possibly made some bad life choices (or was saddled with parents who possibly made some bad life choices). He's not paying my light bill. What do I care? I'm certainly not going to raise my blood pressure over him. Anyone who is constantly posting crazy Cam Newton/Alabama/Auburn updates on Facebook needs to find something that actually MATTERS to discuss. Give it a rest.

In that vein, here are some More Important Things to Freak Out About Online (not a comprehensive list by any stretch):

1.) The price of gas. Are you kidding me? Write something about that.

2.) Why do so many people have free time to play games and take online surveys answering questions on Facebook that nobody gives a fig about? I'm not "unlocking" the answers to questions that you've posted about me online. Who cares what you said about me? Call me on the phone if it's that important. Or don't. Whatever.

3.) An actual news headline "Taliban May Allow Women to Receive an Education" Why? They won't get to use it. Sounds like an astounding waste of resources.

4.) Or how about this one? "68 Teens Pregnant at One Memphis High School". I don't think I knew 68 non-virgins in my whole high school. Why aren't we rioting in the streets about this?

5.) They are trying to change the Zodiac signs. That means that everything you thought "fit you perfectly" in your sign was crap. Anyone mildly perturbed?

6.) The President of the United States declared that France was our greatest ally. I'm sure he really meant behind Great Britain. Anyone else peeved about our strongest ally and friend being dissed like this?

7.) How about this gem? It's a comprehensive list of tax hikes associated with Obamacare. Anyone a little worried? Anyone?

8.) Why do they only give me one napkin with my food at the drive thru? It's not possible to eat anything from the drive thru and only use one napkin.

9.) I have to wait until November for another Twilight movie. Now THAT is a reason to freak out. And what is Stephenie Meyer waiting for anyway? Write another book already!!!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Parenting 101

Since I'm really on a roll here...Sister Sunshine's Pet Peeve this Week In History: Parenting 101

I just so happened to be exposed this week to two very different parenting philosophies that have me all tied up in knots.

Amy Chua is an idiot. I'm angry with her, and I don't even know the woman. She's written a book about parenting the "Chinese Way" (whatever that racist statement means). I am indignant on behalf of her children (who probably adore her, but face it--crack moms are loved by their offspring). What kind of mother completely prohibits sleepovers and camp and school plays, makes her children practice musical instruments for three hours daily, calls her children names and takes away their toys for infractions such as not playing the piano up to snuff, and then GLOATS about it as a parenting model? An insane one, that's what kind.  I thank God that I'm raising my children "The Western Way" (which she insinuates is inferior) as opposed to raising performance-driven socially inept little machines who can't spend the night away from home. Here is a link to this piece of work.

Hot on the heels of that topic, I just finished a book yesterday called The Film Club, by David Gilmore, which is about a father who allows his son to drop out of high school if he agrees to watch three films a week of the father's choosing. This Father of the Year sets the parental expectations bar so low that we get to watch this reject son of his drink, not have a job, sleep until 5:00, start a 'rap career', date a series of worthless women, and do drugs without repercussions all while father and son "bond" over questionable films (okay, so a few of those were my all-time favorites, but still). I was as appalled by this style of parenting as I am by Mrs. Chua's.  I don't want my 16-yr-old jobless derelict drop out sleeping off a hangover in the basement of my house anymore than I want to call my daughter a "piggy" when she eats too much or "garbage" when she fails at a difficult task.

Seriously, can we not find a happy medium somewhere, Folks?

Mrs. Chua, I know you might find this shocking, but I don't have any desire to raise concert pianists. This will result in my having to attend countless recitals to watch other people's kids perform piano badly. It will also require me to stand over my children screaming about practicing the piano, which I could give a flying rip about.  I don't even really like the piano unless Jerry Lee Lewis or Little Richard is playing it.

Mr. Gilmore, it is okay to have expectations of people who live with you. I expect my husband to have a job. I expect my children to brush their teeth. I expect the dog to hit the pad or make it outside. This is not infringing on their delicate sensibilities. It's just setting an acceptable standard of behavior.

Since these intellectuals clearly missed the mark, I'm going to write my own essay on childrearing for normal people with normal children and normal expectations. Y'all just hang loose for that.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

On a Tear

Know what really jumps in my craw and sticks there? Pharisaical Pomposity.

What in the world is that, you ask? It's having the misguided idea that as a superior thinker you know what's best for me and intend to show me the error of my ways. Some folks simply believe that they know better than you do and that you need to be told what to do and what to think, and that if you don't think it and know it as they do, you are clearly an idiot.

Who are the biggest offenders?

1.) People with no kids who want to tell me how to raise mine. Yeah. Okay there, Buddy. Sling that parenting advice somewhere else, because if I have four children and generally no idea what I'm doing over here, then as a non-parent, I know you can't possibly have anything to add to the equation. (Sidenote: Having a cat or a dog makes you a pet owner, not a child rearing expert. You people especially need to shut it.) I'll do fine making my own educated guesses in my personal human bio dome experiment at Casa Johnson.

If you want to do something to help me, come over here and get the grilled cheese sandwich out of the DVD player, find my youngest daughter's left tennis shoe, repaint my den where my budding Rembrandt's painted self portraits on the wall, and help me convince my son that ketchup isn't a vegetable. THAT would be helpful. But telling me that their education isn't appropriate, that my parenting style isn't effective, and that their diet is terrible is just rude.  Do not be confused if you see me smiling and nodding as you blather on. YOU ARE BEING A JACK WAGON, AND I WANT TO HIT YOU UPSIDE THE HEAD WITH MY SHOE!!! I am simply too polite to knock you down and pummel you in public.

2.) People who don't believe in God wanting to argue with me about Him. Why are you wasting your time arguing about a fairy tale if you don't believe in it? I don't sit around having higher level discussion about the ramifications of Goldilocks' anti-social crime spree on the neighborhood of the three bears. Why are you discussing theology at all if you don't buy into it? Don't you have something to macrame or whittle or something organic to grow? Just go on about your business over there somewhere and let me get on with it. Something smells fishy when I get around a pseudo-god-worshiper. Maybe you secretly do buy into it, but want someone to talk you in off of that ledge. Now, if you will shut up going on and on and on about the Earth Mother or crystals or what your aura is saying for five seconds, I'll explain to you in a rational way why I believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven, and I'll use some Scripture to back up my position. If you don't like it, fine. The best part about my faith is that God makes it a take it or leave it proposition. You don't have to believe; you can be righteously wrong all you want, just stop talking down to me. Believing doesn't make me ignorant. In fact, I think it proves the opposite, but that's another rant.

3.) People who assume they are spiritually or politically superior. Know what the difference between me and my OBGYN is? He read the books and passed the test. There is nothing that you know, no knowledge that you hold dear, that I can't learn with a little time and effort. So, quit behaving as though you have some sort of Special Status in the Club of Those Who are Enlightened. Nobody can stand to be around you. How about putting on a cloak of humility? How about coming to serve? How about the first shall be last? Being pious and holy are things that should humble you, not elevate you. Nobody likes a spiritual Nelly Knows it All.

4.) People who want to force me into a healthy lifestyle. We all know that I've been an excercising maniac lately. I've also dropped about 56 lbs through careful diet changes and exercise. It's taken a year of work and deliberate effort. I have a theory about why I got so huge. Wanna hear it? It's a good one. My parents never, ever, in my whole childhood allowed junk food to have any place in our lives,

Cokes, sweets, snacks, candy, etc., hardly ever came into our house. It was like this huge deal when my father would bring a candy bar home. We'd cut it into fourths and share it, savoring every bite. When I'd go spend the night with girlfriends, and their families dealt with food differently and had, say a bowl of Hershey kisses on the kitchen counter, all I could see, all I could think about was that candy. Why was it just sitting there? Why weren't they eating it? What was WRONG with these people????? Didn't they know they were supposed to eat it for special occassions? As a result, I never learned how to self regulate cravings. So, when I got to college and had my own grocery money and my own pantry, it was Game On! I ate it all double time.

In my husband's household growing up, there were snacks everywhere. Little Debbies, soft drinks, chips, candies, goodies, everything you can imagine. He's thin as a rail. He'll eat two bites of something sweet and put the rest in the trash. He's an amazing self regulator. So, we decided to do it that way with our own children and see how it went. Right now in my fridge there are apples, lettuce, tomatoes, grapes, pineapple, pears. On the counter are three or four kinds of bread: white, wheat, bagels, doughnuts. Little Debbies galore: brownies, cookies, doughnut sticks, swiss cake rolls. There are Oreos, Chips Ahoy, a zillion little baggies of chips, popcorn, sweets, candy, milk, five kinds of juice, tea, and five liters of cokes. Know what The Little Flower wanted for a snack tonight before bedtime? Chicken noodle soup. She had all of that at her fingertips and wanted low cal soup. The Number One Son just walked through here eating a whole apple. And one of the Wondertwins had a spoonful of peanut butter.

Here's the moral: Even with access to everything, no limits, no regulation, they all chose WITHOUT FAIL healthy snacks. Are there nights when it's popcorn and chocolate? Sure. But they are thin, healthy, athletic, balanced kids who get to make choices and are learning about what it means to eat well throughout your lifetime, not just when you have no free will and your diet is chosen for you. They play sports, exercise, cheer, basketball, football, run, aerobics, gymnastics--all by choice. Sure, we encourage them, but it's their choice. They will have to run the sprints, not me.

So, if I hear one more government regulation about what I can/can't eat or one more diet do gooder dictating what I should feed my children, I might lose it. The beauty of free will is that we LEARN to make good or bad choices. You have to have a CHOICE in order to exact free will. I would never dream of making my child clean a plate (teaches over eating) or bribe with food (teaching food as a reward) or make my child play the piano or a particular sport ad naseum (because that indicates that it's YOUR obsession, not theirs). I don't care if you choose to do those things to your child. Just leave mine alone!

I have about ten more things to put on this list, but I'll stop for now since it's 10:15 and my Shorties are still up watching television. (Yes, that's right, we have a negotiable bedtime and TVs in the bedrooms, and I don't check homework unless it's some major project or malfunction. That's how you learn personal responsibility--as in, it's not my problem if you didn't do your homework--you earn your grades all by yourself, Sister.) You can ask my A-B Honor Roll kids how they like myy childrearing system tomorrow at school when one of my spiritual, empathetic, kind, thin, funny, talented, bright, joyful, beautiful, athletic, well adjusted, popular God-fearing WonderTwins gets her award for top academic student. In fact, maybe I should be telling you people how it's done...