This blurb below about a new cafeteria policy was just sent out by the kids’ elementary school and then reinforced via a robo-call from the school. Have a look:
New Cafeteria Policy
Extra tables have been added to ensure that all of our students have a seat at lunch, but there are no extra seats for parents, guardians or visitors. Parents and/or guardians will no longer be allowed to sit at tables or linger in the cafeteria. Parents and/or guardians who do enter the cafeteria will be asked to leave. Throughout the school year, we will host cafeteria dining events, and parents and guardians will be invited to attend. Thank you in advance for your cooperation and continued support.
Is there such a crush of parents coming to eat crappy school lunch with their kid every day that they had to institute this policy?? Obviously. So many in fact that there were not enough seats for the kids. People, come ON. School is a brief respite in the 24-hour a day job that is being a parent. And truth be told, you are still usually doing parent duties during that time, just without the kids telling you how bored, hungry, sleepy they are. And the other truth is that your kids probably don’t want you coming up for lunch all the time. School is their domain, not yours. It’s where they go to get away from you and if they are old enough, to complain about you to their friends. So ease up and give the kid some space. I cannot even imagine my mom coming up to eat lunch with me at school when I was a kid. I was fully aware that she had better things to do than squeeze into a seat made for a midget and pick at overcooked corn and cold mini pizza, at 11 in the morning. And I would’ve thought that was an intrusion on my kid time. It’s like your dad trying to join your little league team, but not as a coach….as a player. I am actually embarrassed of my generation and how we parent. We inspired the term “helicopter parents” because we couldn’t imagine leaving our precious little ones to their own devices for fifteen seconds, much less for an ENTIRE SCHOOL DAY. Oh, the horror! My favorite line in the notice from school is that parents will no longer be allowed to “sit at tables or linger in the cafeteria…” HA! Linger! This tells me that not only is there a problem with parents coming up and eating with the kids, that there are also enough parents stalking their own kids in the cafeteria that they have had to institute a no-parental-loitering policy! If your kids don’t’ even want you there to the point where you are forced to sort of hang out in the cafeteria like a friendless loser then you need to get a life. I say this for your own good. One day you will thank me. Because if you are filling your day with this kind of nonsense, what’s going to happen when they become teenagers and won’t sweetly tolerate this insanity like they do now? It’ll be brutal.
I think I might be the opposite of a helicopter parent. My husband and I are both big believers in the idea of benign neglect. He said that we are actually Satellite Parents, instead of Helicopter Parents. As such, here are some of my beliefs:
- I will never do my kids’ homework. Ever. I already mastered 3rd grade English and 5th grade math. So I’m good.
- I don’t want to come eat lunch at school. Even if it’s their birthday. I’d rather take them to celebrate after school than squeeze into a cafeteria seat with that bunch of lunatics otherwise known as their classmates.
- Mandated snack times are out of control. My kids can’t go fifteen minutes without some organized snack time being thrown at them, during each activity. Then they are never hungry for dinner. It’s ridiculous. I’m going to start telling school and sports leaders that my kids are “deathly allergic to snacks”. And then wave an Epi-pen hysterically in their face, while yelling “Deathly allergic! Deathly!” over and over.
- I hate goodie bags. Like, in my soul. Useless, costly crap, that usually smells like soured plastic. I throw them out as soon as my kids’ backs are turned. Or it’s candy. Because they need a sugar chaser for that cake and ice cream they had five minutes ago. After the snack. Sigh.
- I don’t want to hang out at the play date that my kid has been invited to. It’s their friend, not mine. And if the play date is at my house, I expect them to go off and play. I do not organize sing alongs or hoe downs or creative crafts corners. You are kids. GO PLAY. Figure it out.
- I don’t sign my kids up to everything under the sun. They don’t need to do everything on offer. It would be like ordering every single thing off the menu at a restaurant, at the same meal. Any enjoyment that you would get out of a couple of things is actually ruined if you go overboard. Not the other way around. It’s the law of diminishing returns, people.
- I don’t take forgotten items up to school in the middle of the day. This ensures that there are very rarely any forgotten things. The one time is painful enough.
- I’m not a short order cook and I don’t do separate meals. Dinner is dinner and it’s same for everyone. Sorry if that’s not sexy. When you can cook, you can make what you like.
- If you are smart enough to defeat Zombies using only plants or record tv on the DVR unassisted, then you can handle making your own sandwich from time to time.
- Finally, I don’t negotiate with terrorists. This group includes all of my children, especially the 2-year old. My husband and I are unabashed dictators. Occasionally, like all good despots, we pretend to give the little people a say. But really it’s just to pacify them. And it amuses us.
I had an interesting conversation over the weekend with some friends. It started about my earlier post on being “Crazy Busy” that one of them had read. So I ranted a bit about that again. And then I got to wondering out loud why it is that people feel the need to be crazy busy and to proclaim their crazy busy-ness. Because, Lord knows, it doesn’t count if everyone doesn’t know about it. And then it hit me…..I never hear men complain about being crazy busy. It is always women and more specifically, mommies. Now, this could be because this is who I do the majority of my chatting and bonding with. I chat with my husband all the time, of course. But unless it is really a true problem, he doesn’t want to hear my shit. If I flop into bed with an “Oh my GOD, I am exhausted. I had such a crazy day.” he is most likely to respond with “Ugh. Me too. ”. And roll over. This ranks low on my emotional satisfaction scale. So, I save that kind of talk for my girlfriends. But in talking about this, something occurred to me: Maybe mommies do this because they would feel too guilty about enjoying what they are doing. Like, it wouldn’t be okay with everyone else. And maybe they are right. So, that’s TWO problems in my book. First off, why should we begrudge a mommy (stay home, part time work, full time work, whatever….) if she doesn’t fall down dead every day from sheer exhaustion? Would we think she wasn’t doing all she could for her kids? Would we begrudge any time that she wasn’t crazed, but had the audacity to enjoy? When it comes to careers in general and choosing your life’s work, the ideal is to “follow your bliss” and “do what you love and the money will follow”. When we see someone who truly enjoys what they do for a living, we celebrate that and wish we could figure out how to do the same. But if a mommy says that being with her kids was anything other than mind-numbing drudgery, we suspect her of being a lazy sack. The second part of this, where the mommies are complicit, is buying into this ridiculous notion. It’s YOUR life. It’s a marathon and not a multi-tasking sprint that you have to organize, run and win all while making the costumes. And the only person that you are racing against is yourself. So….SLOW DOWN. Enjoy. Open that bottle of wine. Sit in the sun instead of folding laundry. Let the kids eat breakfast for dinner once in a while, just because it is easier for you. Not because you are trying to be Fun Mom. Skip some birthday parties. Attendance is not mandatory and it is okay to only accept invites to the ones that your kids are actually friends with. In closing, stop being crazy and just get busy being happy. That is all.
- Whether you like what’s in your lunchbox. It’s lunch. I made it. You eat it.
- Whether or not you WANT to go to bed or to brush your teeth or clean the kitchen. Fuss all you want…. It’s happening.
- Whether or not something is fair. It usually isn’t. Get used to it. It’ll make your life much easier in the long run.
- Who started it.
- Any plot to any cartoon or any Disney Channel show or anything that “transforms”, as told in lengthy painful detail by you to me, usually when I am trying to cook dinner and cannot run away.
- Whatever you need to tell me through the bathroom door while I pee. It can wait. Seriously.
- If you forgot your homework, lunch, or to ask me to sign something. It’s your homework, your stomach, and your loss if you miss the field trip for no permission slip. Suffer the consequences and I promise you won’t forget next time. And I have just saved you some serious pain in college, when all your friends will be weeping because they don’t know how to make a sandwich or where the soap goes in the washing machine. You’ll be smugly eating the delicious hoagie that you made, while enjoying fresh underpants. You’re welcome.
- Where your (fill in the blank….shoes, jacket, book, blankie, etc. ) is. It’s yours, not mine. I did not lose it. And I am not psychic.
- That you need freshly made baked goods for TOMORROW morning for school/Girls Scouts/Little league. You cannot tell me this without at least 24-hours’ notice. I am not a wizard. I cannot magic food out of thin air or an empty fridge.
One of my biggest pet peeves is people, especially other moms, telling me how busy they are. So busy! CRAZY busy! This last one is the most annoying. You’re busy. I’m busy. EVERYONE is busy. And by that I mean, we all have shit to do. Your shit isn’t any more important than anyone else’s. And it especially annoys me when 60-80% of what the complainers are “busy” doing is all elective. You CHOOSE to sign your kids up for 17 activities in 17 different locations around town. You CHOOSE to volunteer to read at school or bake cookies or organize the principal’s desk drawer. You CHOOSE to be CRAZY BUSY for the most part. I wouldn’t be so annoyed by all of this if the complainers actually seemed to enjoy all this and were content. Or if they didn’t enjoy it (which is what I gather from all the complaining) and so they changed it. But noooo….it’s like the movie Groundhog Day and we are all living the same CRAZY busy day over and over and over again. So, I got off that Crazy Busy Train a while ago, back at Sanity Junction. Yes, I get busy and no, I don’t always have time for everything I would like to do. But I realize that I am the master of my own schedule and life. My kids don’t need to take every class ever offered to them and they won’t die from boredom or a regular bout of free time. If anything, it’s good for them. And it’s certainly good for me. Now, I have to get back to what I was busy doing before I wrote this……nothing.
I had received several compliments as of late, from good friends. They all center around the idea that I “do it all”, but make it look easy. While I appreciate this (really and truly I do), I think it is time to set the record straight. I don’t do it all. I don’t even come close. I am not saying that I don’t do a lot or that I don’t feel “crazy busy” at times. But I certainly let things slide and never want to give the impression that I think I’ve got everything all figured out. I do think that I manage a lot of things with certain aplomb. But I also know enough to let certain things go or else I would go insane. Here is the list:
- My kids don’t bathe every night. There is no way I can squeeze in this task every single night. So, it is an every other night event. And in the summer, swimming in the pool can sometimes count as a “bath”.
- Sometimes my kids sleep in peed-on sheets. And I don’t mean just during the middle of the night that they have peed on them. If they don’t tell me at the appropriate time (i.e. NOT at bedtime when I am at the end of my rope anyway) then the sheets stay on until I have a free minute or I remember to ask the child minder to do it while I am at work.
- I don’t bake anything for any school function nor do I volunteer for anything. This applies whenever I am working a lot. If I am not working, I will, but on a limited basis. I also think that effort on the school front should be counted cumulatively. I gotta a lot of years to go with this crap, considering that Noah hasn’t even started. If you count 4 kids times 14 years of school (yes, I am counting pre-K and Kindergarten) then that is 56 years of school activities! Because of this, one year I was homeroom parent for all three older kids at the same time. That way, I figured I spent one year doing it, and I won’t need to do it again until Noah gets his year. I will, however, hit up co-workers for school fundraising through sales of chocolate, wrapping paper, raffle tickets, etc.
- We ordered pizza at least once per week. The Domino’s guy knows our house.
- Sometimes I let the toddler eat breakfast cereal for dinner.
- I stopped writing thank you notes for kids’ birthday presents. I think most other people stopped doing this a while ago or never did it. This goes against my core on manners, but it had to go.
- I don’t do goody bags for birthday parties (unless they come as part of a party package already, but not if they cost more). These things have gotten out of control and I hate them when my kids get them.
- My car is basically always in need of a wash and a purge.
- If the toddler wakes up early on a morning when I have gotten up extra early to have a coffee and some time alone, I let him fuss until I have finished my coffee.
- Sometimes I just make “kid food” for dinner for them and I drink wine.
- We go an outrageously long time between haircuts.
- Most Sundays, the toddler wears his pajamas all day.
- I don’t feel bad going out of town without my kids. While I love to travel with them, I also love to travel without them. I try to do this at least several times a year.
- We only go to church on major holidays or when one of the kids is getting christened. (I would like to change this, but I’m not quite up for the Sunday morning whinefest that would ensue.)
- We ALWAYS have laundry that needs to be done. ALWAYS.
I am sure that there are many more, but those are the highlights. And I have to say, I haven’t lost one minute of sleep over any of it!
About his older sister and older brother, ” With Sophie, I’m all love and unicorns. With John…..I’m BING, BANG, BOOM!”
After I told him one night that he was pressing his luck with me about picking out a book, “Yeah, but I can just hear everyone saying ‘Press your luck! Press your luck! Press your luck!’ “.
NYE: Bursts into the room wearing a paper party hat and lots of plastic party favor jewelry ; “I’m wearing a party hat, two necklaces, rings…..I’m a rich man in a party hat!”.
Jan 2013: We are playing the card game Snap! and I had just hesitated on purpose, so he could win a big pile of cards. I had won the last hand and wanted him to win this one. After he grabbed his cards up, he said, “You let me win that.” “No, I didn’t. I was distracted.” He looks around the room (tv is off and it’s very quiet….just us.) “By WHAT?” “Oh, I was just thinking about what to make for dinner.” “Oh, Mommy! I know what you should make for dinner……DEFEAT! Yeah! Taste the defeat!”
So I am experiencing a bedtime crisis. It’s not about a child who won’t go to sleep or stay in their own bed. Or even about when is an appropriate bedtime. These are all problems that we either were lucky enough not to face or lucky enough to have sorted out by now. No, mine is a dilemma that I created all by myself. Let me explain….I am a huge reader. I LOVE to read. Always have. I can still tell you the books that I devoured and adored as a kid, plus all the recent ones that have really resonated with me, for lack of a less nerdy description. When my older sister graduated from high school I was ten and deep in the throes of a love affair with all books by Madeline L’Engle. So when she was the guest speaker at the graduation I was beside myself with joy. I even asked for her autograph. It’s one of my regrets that I don’t still have it. More recently I felt almost as passionate about “Life of Pi”. John got so sick of hearing about it that he finally threatened to ruin the end of the book for anyone he heard me mention it to. (I took to whispering “Have you read ‘Life of Pi’?” across loud diner party tables, praying John couldn’t hear me. Yes, I know that I am crazy.) So, of course given my love for books and reading, once I had kids I wanted to instill them with the same thing. I remember reading Sophie her first books out loud before she could even walk. This stage has been delayed a bit with each child, as it’s hard to read to an infant, when your other older kids have important needs too. Like eating. I am happy to report that all of my kids love books and the ones who can read, love to read. However, the three older ones (two of whom can read quite well, probably as well as me.) still insist on a bedtime story every night. The issue is that with three kids to read to, this takes a lot of damn time. I love it and I get a kick out of watching them enjoy the unfolding of a great story. However, after a long day of work, dinner making, and toddler wrangling, I am tired. I don’t want to spend an hour reading. By the time I am done, most nights, it’s MY bedtime. What about alone time with John? What about a little quality time with a glass of wine and bad tv? I would rather have this dilemma with my kids than many others. And I am sure as each one finally decides (as they inevitably will) that they are too old for me to read to them, I am sure I will be a little be sad, mournful that the stage has ended. But for right now, I could use an extra half hour of adult time and a little less “Harry and the Dinosaurs”. Maybe the two older ones can read to me, while I have that glass of wine. Now, that’s an idea………
Quotes from our 3rd and zaniest child, Lincoln. He comes up with some zingers.
Current age = 5
July 28, 2012 – To the cab driver in Dublin, who was chatting with me about what I did for work:
“I’m an insult consultant. I tell people mean things about themselves that they don’t want to hear.”
June and July 2012:
“You shouldn’t make your kids do your dirty work” when asked to carry a bag out of a store.
“She is a little bit nuts!” when asked if he liked a certain relative.
“You’ll be hearing from my lawyer!” to a total adult stranger, who reminded him to wash his hands in the pool bathroom. The stranger turned out to be a lawyer himself!
AND……one blast from the past classic……When he was 3, at the dinner table one night:
“NEVER shake a clown by the butt. It just makes him mad.” Pause. “That’s a life rule.”
The blog has a space for comments, but I have to approve any comment before it hits the blog. So, I have to read through each one that is submitted. 99% of them are spam. Some are really sophisticated and even look like they are coming from real people. But most are easy to spot. The author is “Best Electric Toothbrush” or “How To Meet Girls”. Weirdly, “Absinthe Spoons” has been a very frequent commenter on my blog as of late. Most of the comments they try to get through are about how great my blog post is and how long they had been looking for information on this topic. Really? You’ve been endlessly searching for information about how I one time ate muffin off of my kid’s toe??? They flatter in the hopes that I post it and then anyone else clicking on it will be sent to their site. But my favorite is the insulting comment. Here’s an example:
“The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this place. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I actually thought youd have something interesting to assert. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that anyone can fix if you werent too busy looking for attention.”
At first, I was like, wow. Then I realized it was SPAM. But still funny. And anyway……electric toothbrush reviews LOVES my blog. So, why do I care what you think, Buyloiusvuittonshoes??