Thursday, June 16, 2011

Graduation Degradation

Last Sunday I was invited to two graduation parties, one was for a high school graduation, the other a college one.  Before I was a Mother, I did not pay very much attention to the emotions surrounding each of these events, but the day of these parties all I could think about was the Mothers and Fathers and how proud they must be of their children.  What I kept thinking, though, is that they should be proud of themselves, because it is the greatest accomplishment in the world to survive raising a child, and an even greater one, to raise one that is going to actually contribute to society in a positive way.  Or at least you have set them up in such a way, that they are capable of doing so.

Anyway, let's start with the first party, which was a high school graduation party on my block, in which both their daughter and son graduated from high school the same year, because they are nine months apart.  That's right, I said, NINE MONTHS APART. The term for this is called "Irish twins" ( I guess this is considered a derogatory term referring to Catholics who do not believe in birth control), but I can never remember that, and I always want to say Siamese twins.  I even had to look up the term on the internet for this blog because I couldn't get "Siamese" out of my brain, again.  Weird, I know.

My neighbors and I were discussing this very subject at the party, at one point, because many of us have young children, and we were imagining what it would be like to find out that you are pregnant the month that you come home with your first newborn.  At that point, someone said, and I can't remember who, or I would give them cred, "That man had NO BUSINESS having sex with that woman right after she had just had a baby."  Classic.  The assumption, here, is that he made her have sex with him while she is getting up several times a night and breast feeding.  Anyway, I was amongst a group of women, at the time, and we all just looked down at the ground and shook our heads.  TRUE DAT.

So they had a taco truck and a bottomless margarita policy.  (Margaritas were YUMMY.) It was so fun and all of my awesome neighbors were there and it was a beautiful night and the kids were all playing and it is the kind of party that makes you realize why you yearn for summer the other three seasons of the year.

At one point, the hostess was trying to take a picture of all of the kids and they were all bunched up in front of the Taco Truck, while all of the parents looked on, and suddenly my brand new, FULL, icy beer, slips out of my hand as I am trying to get Eva to take her fingers out of her mouth because she always does this to irritate me whenever someone tries to take her picture, and my beer slips out of my hand, slams down on my toe, cuts it open, blood squirts out everywhere, and then as the hostess is poised to take the picture the beer sprays out all over her shoe and I yell, "DAMMMMIT!!!!"  All the kids start giggling, and the parents start high fiving me, and saying things like, "Mother of the Year!"

I mean, what an ass.  This is exactly why I should just stay in my backyard if I choose to drink, because I obviously cannot cope with real world situations such as "graduation parties" without somehow humiliating myself and my family.

But then, the next day, I am doing the walk of shame down my street, pretending to walk my dog and my kids, when one of my neighbors stops me and hands me a big plate of redemption.  She explains that after we left the party, another neighbor fell back in his chair twice, and the second time he managed to break a table along with the chair.

Then, she goes on to describe another neighbor, whom they thought because he was wearing this gigantic, authentic sombrero (you know the ones, the ones they give you on your birthday at El Vaquero?  Oh well, we have had a lot of kid "family" parties there, so I am familiar with the process - i.e. order a pitcher of Texas margaritas, bring presents for the guest of honor, eat a shitload of con queso with flour tortillas - you must try this, I discovered it in Texas, siblings complain because it is not their birthday, give them a roll of quarters to get some "party favors" at the junk dispensers they have in the waiting room, finish your pitcher, tell them it is your child's birthday, they arrive with fried ice cream and put a sombrero on your child's head, which the child then refuses, so you end up putting it on your head, Grandparents take your picture in the sombrero next to your child blowing our their candle, Grandparents drive everyone home.  At least that has been MY experience, several times.)

ANYWAY, where was I, oh yea, the neighbor, apparently he was speaking in tongues due to a succession of margaritas (did I mention they were YUMMY) and for the longest time everyone thought he was speaking, "you know, Mexican," she says and we all had a hearty laugh.  Thankfully, EVERYONE had forgotten about my little "splitting your toe open and then cursing and spilling a beer on the foot of the hostess" incident and I was suddenly overwhelmed with relief.  We did an extra lap around my block, I was so elated.

The next party was at one of my best friends parents' house and it is this ginormous mansion in Upper Arlington.  Before they lived there, and when I was first dating Brad in college, I was following him home, because he had borrowed his parents' car while they were on vacation, and took his friends in it to several Dead Shows.  Sorry Mimi and Grandpa Kennie, but it is the truth.  I actually went to your home before I met you for the first time, and then pretended that I had never been there before. ( I am surprised that I did not give myself away when I proceeded to make myself a drink from your liquor cabinet in the basement. Ha!) That is a whole other post which I keep forgetting to write.  It's a doosy.  Remind me.  It is family folklore.

ANYWAY, when I was following him home, he pulled into this mansion's driveway and then got out and came to my window and when I manually rolled my window down (remember those?)  he goes, "You thought you were really getting something, didn't ya?  My house is down the road."

In my defense, it was dark and late at night and I was focused on the adventure at hand, but then I looked up to find this well-lit gargantuan estate on the golf course and was immediately disappointed.

Well, we told this story to my friend's Dad and he howled with laughter and then humbly added that his family "is just honored to borrow this house for a while."  CLASSY.  Never had those thoughts about my house, and let's face it, probably never will.

So my friend, we'll call her Jen, had her husband's band playing in the backyard which was set against the Scioto Golf Course, and the kids were dancing in the moonlight and we were drinking wine and enjoying our children playing together (Nothing gives me more joy than when the people I love's children get along with my children.) and it was just one of those summer nights where everything comes together and it makes you thankful for everything that you are fortunate to have in this life.  Oodles of country songs have been written about this very experience.

I guess my recommendation today is to value what you have, and to try and have as many adventures this summer as you can.  I just love the randomness of summertime.  The world is your oyster.  You can do whatever you want, whenever you want.  That is the way that I view summertime.  I try to have no guilt about what my kids eat or do, or how often they shower, or how dirty the house gets.  I want my kids to remember their summers as carefree, like I remember mine.  Try not to overschedule them, and just spend an afternoon hanging out after you have all slept in.  Start a project and engage them in it.  My fondest memories are of learning some skill from someone who took the time to teach me something when it made the whole project take twice as long as it should have.

I like to quote from this Oprah episode I saw when my kids were really young and I used to make the time to watch daytime t.v.  She was interviewing this child whose Mother had died, and they had taken all of these trips to Disneyland and waterparks and stuff right before she died.  When Oprah asked this little boy what he enjoyed doing the most with his Mom, he replied, "I liked when she read books to me at night."  I am not the perfect Mother, far from it, but that resonated with me, and I just thought I would pass it on. 

Case in point, pic above is of the girls riding their skateboards I bought them at Target for the summer and then realized that I was going to spend the rest of my life holding their hands as they tried repeatedly to give themselves a head injury.  Settled on them sitting on them with their helmets on as they sped down my neighbors driveway across our street up our driveway.  Not a bad way to spend a summer afternoon.  If I could just get some roadblocks to section off our block, that is.

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