Will I Do Better the Next Time?

I went shopping yesterday in The Metro at a mall that has a Scheels sporting goods store. As I walked past the boy’s department, I overheard this exchange between two of its employees:

“Did you see this coat? It says it’s a Boys!” She held up a dark pink jacket. “What are we going to do with it??”

“Better put it in Girls”, she replied with what I interpreted as annoyance.

I thought I should have said something; called them out for gender stereotyping, but I didn’t. I replayed the exchange over and over again in my head, and I hated how it smacked of bullying by proxy. They made a judgement of gender simply based on the color of the coat. What if it had been an eight-year-old boy walking by wearing that coat? In the best case scenario, they wouldn’t have said anything, but they would have had those thoughts. Worst-case, they would have said something offhandedly, i.e. “That’s quite a coat you got on there, son!”, if not something totally ignorant along the lines of “Only girls wear pink!”

My son’s hair, since he’s no longer under a private school’s appearance policy, has grown long enough that he can almost sweep his bangs behind his ears. He has protested quite loudly when the topic of a trim comes up. However, a couple of weeks ago, he told me that a classmate had said that only girls grow their hair long. Doodicus suggested that maybe he should get his bangs trimmed. I said we could schedule something for the weekend. I knew he just needed time to get over the teasing words of his peer. He’s had to do it before because his grandparents and aunts and uncles have made similar comments. I always quickly vocalize my support of Doodicus’ hair, and I would have thought by now they would have stopped hassling him, but apparently it may require the more obvious approach by telling them to simply fuck off about the whole hair-thing already.

But I wonder why I didn’t come to the defense of the faceless and nameless boy who may have fallen in love with the pink jacket. I could have said something knowing that neither of the employees would have been able to defend themselves against the crazy customer, not to mention I was simply an anonymous person they could later describe with scathing detail to other like-minded employees on their next break or maybe even in their staff meeting (I have no idea which end of the spectrum their management falls under, but I couldn’t help but pick up on the VERY traditional Christmas music that was being piped over the speakers during my hour in the store), but I kept my head down, so to speak, and walked out of earshot. I had a chance to be an advocate for tolerance and I wonder if I had had my son with me, if I still would have failed to provide him the upstanding role model of what we expect from him as he matures.

I’m Shopping for Perspective

My niece-in-law invited us over this past summer for a party for two of her three children’s birthday because they have dates close to each other. We attended, but I decided to provide a third present for the third child as an early birthday present. I didn’t want the one to feel left out of the celebrations when siblings were getting a bunch of presents. This child wasn’t quite yet two so I know they had to help open it and they knew the intent behind it, however I can’t confirm that because they never sent thank-you cards.

A month or so later, we had Aitch’s birthday party. We invited several children including these three siblings. We see them fairly frequent as they are my SIL’s grandchildren. The party came and went and there was never a card, gift or so much as a "Sorry, we couldn’t come to your party," by the NIL. They said they weren’t coming in an email and that was it, which OK, fine. They didn’t owe me an explanation.

Then the third child’s birthday came up and again we were all invited. With really no excuse not to go, we did, but I did not bring a present. I had already done so at the first party, plus they never did get anything for Aitch…I’ll admit, I was a tad bitter. Especially when they took all three of the kids to their cousin’s birthday party that was 75 miles away, whereas NIL and our families live in the same town.

Now that I think I have it all behind me, I get an email today from the NIL asking about Christmas. She writes, "I am trying to get an idea for christmas presents for the kids this year. Otherwise, my other thought is to not exchange at all since the kids are so hard to shop for. I am very flexible either way."

Here’s the deal, I would be thrilled to not to go out and buy anymore presents than I have to, so I’m all for saying no gift exchange. (Sidenote: they’re hard to shop for?? Little kids are not at all hard to shop for. They love everything!) However, this email was sent only to me, not to the other cousins’ family. If the in-laws get together, I’m not going to be the one with the kids who neither get to hand out presents or get presents. My reply: "Will there be a family get together? If so, I’m sure all the kids would enjoy exchanging gifts, especially if we let THEM pick out each gift and have a cost limit. It would be fun seeing what they would pick for each other."

I’ve never been good at diplomacy, but this was OK, right? And I know, no matter what gets "decided", Sparring Partner will require I get presents for his nieces’ children because that’s just the way he is. I know this all makes me out to be an asshole, but I hate feeling as if my children are getting the shaft when the personality conflict is with me, not my kids.

Grandma Wanna Be

Tonight we were at supper with my in-laws and their visiting family. My husband’s niece was there as well with her children, including their youngest who recently turned two. One of the visiting family members, Sally, repeatedly requested that the two-year old come over and sit on her lap “…because I don’t have any grandchildren yet.”

The first time she said it, I didn’t think anything of it, but by the third time I was ready to smack her. As if saying that would suddenly convince the two-year-old that “Oh! Hey! I could totally pretend to be your grandchild, Strange Lady I Just Met Today…if I knew what a “grandchild” was, but you know how it is, being TWO and all!”

You know how people make vague announcement, like “Man, could things get any worse?!! *sigh!*” and you know the only reason their doing is is to get you sucked into whatever woe-is-me story they have going on? Well, I just knew that’s what she was doing with that “I don’t have any grandchildren yet” lead. However, since I’m totally antisocial and of the I-don’t-give-a-fuck personality, she unfortunately was barking up the wrong tree.

Luckily (??) someone else finally picked up on her sad sighs and asked her about her children. As I helped Aitch cut up her food, I eavesdropped.

“Well, I just really want a grandchild, but you see, my son, he’s been married now for a couple of years. He’s 31 and I just know that if they haven’t had children by now, they never will.”

I can’t really explain why this made me unreasonably angry, but it did enough that as soon as Sparring Partner and I were in the privacy of the car, I screeched at him. “Maybe they CAN’T have children?? Did she ever think of that?! If she’s constantly moaning about it to us, what kind of guilt trip is she laying on her son and daughter-in-law?”

If HE is 31, then we can safely presume she’s 31 or younger. Hell, I was 34 when I had my son! My husband was 37!! It always makes me uncomfortable when parents talk about their children giving them grandchildren because that means they are thinking about their sweet baby getting it on and conceiving. I don’t want that visual. Aside from that, some couples may not even want to have children. Being 30 seems so, so young to me. Many 30 year-olds don’t even a career, for heaven’s sake.

Having gone through years of infertility and miscarriages and dozens of embarrassing medical procedures, if I had to add my Mom’s (or Mothers-in-law) disappointment over the lack of grandchildren, I’m sure I would have gone straight to Batshit Crazy Hell. Someday, I hope I do live long enough to have grandchildren, but I would rather my children simply have fulfilling and rewarding lives that DON’T include me.

I don’t cook often, but when I do, it’s friggin fast: Poached Eggs

I’ve become such a bore, haven’t I? I promise to not disappoint with this post, either!

Let me introduce you to the perfect poached egg. Perfect because it can be done in the time it takes to make toast and the technique means little to clean up in the Dishes Department.

One extra-large egg and a microwavable rice bowl
Break egg into bowl. Start over if you break yolk.
GENTLY add water to bowl so as to not break up the yolk or white. You’ll need enough to *just* cover the egg.
Microwave on High for 1 minute. Now’s the time to make toast! This is right after the ‘nuking. The heart was just a happy accident.
Carefully drain off all the water. If you break the yoke, start back at picture #2. I use this “fryer” spoon.
Tada! One perfect poached egg! (If you overcook it, it’s a “soft-boiled” egg. If undercooked, it’s a “sunny-side-up” egg.)

Since eggs are cheap and all microwaves are different, you can afford to tweak this a bit to make the egg turn out the way you like. The only egg I toss is one that doesn’t have the white cooked. This simple process means that we can serve breakfast for four in less than 15 minutes. I’ve never tried cooking up more than one egg at a time. On the other hand, we’ve never had breakfast ready in 15 minutes. There’s bacon to be cooked up, and Aitch is a bacon fiend.

A Fall Funk

It’s November!! In so many ways, October feels like the "hump month" out of the school season, doesn’t it?

October also marked my two-year anniversary of being (visibly) skin-cancer free. At my bi-annual check-up, I didn’t even have to have a biopsy, which made me ridiculously happy. Those puppies take forever to heal. While there were no moles to remove, I do have an anomaly of pigmentation on my lower lip that has been documented and photographed for future reference. It’s a "freckle" now, but since it has not always been there, it garners very close monitoring. I told the dermatologist that I had no desire to have it biopsied until such time it warranted serious consideration because simply, I am vain. If in the future it does have to be removed, I want to be able to have them enhanced into the finest pair of duck lips Facebook has ever seen.

October also ended up breaking my five year streak of going without a mammogram. My last one was in 2007, and it was required by the RE since I was then 40 and they didn’t want to help me get pregnant with a donor baby if I was going to end up screwing myself up by getting breast cancer in the middle of the well-intended plans. Or something like that. Unfortunately, my mammogram wasn’t because I was being a responsible woman in my 40s and it was Pink Month. Instead, my exam was diagnostic in nature and not preventative.

Sometime during the 3rd week of my cycle (and this is relevant when it came to trying to diagnose me), I suddenly had sharp and excruciating pain in my left breast. How excruciating? I described it to my gynecologist’s PA as, "It’s like Freddy Kruger was scraping his knifey nails on the inside of my boob trying to get out" kind of pain. It started on a Friday evening. I thought it was a fluke as Aitch had been leaning against that side of me while we were watching TV. The next morning while I was taking a shower, I realized it was no fluke when I raised my arms to wash my hair. The searing pain was enough for me to go around for the next three days cupping my breast in my hand to immobolize it. I was totally sexy.

It was then I had my appointment with the PA who went through a physical examination and question and answer period, but we were no closer to solving they why. We didn’t think it was hormonal (see previous paragraph), and she didn’t think it was cancer, but that’s when I was ordered to get a diagnostic mammo for confirmation. During the following weeks, I was still cupping if I leaned over and I was washing my hair in the shower with one hand. If you don’t think that’s difficult, try it once. My period came and went, and eventually the pain just went as well. I’ve had a full cycle since and not a twinge has returned. The pain is unexplained, but my mammo came back normal.

As I mentioned at the beginning, Hump Month is over with school. Doodicus is settling into his routines, but it has not been without tears, tantrums or defiance. We are meeting with the school counselor, psychologist and his teachers in a couple of weeks and at that time I am certain they will announce that his ADHD disability does not qualify him for an IEP. Instead we will shoot for a 504 Plan. His home room teacher is wonderful, but the supporting staff for his grade are evading my requests for informal accommodations. Bringing the hammer down with the phrase "as required by law" makes me uncomfortable, but that’s what it has come down to. Doodicus continues to meet with the psychologist two hours away on a monthly basis, and I continue to have a mom-crush on him. Even the psychiatrist redeemed himself in an email when he all but called the people at my insurance company who I’m battling with over some prescription coverage, assholes. (I’m looking at you, Coventry Healthcare of Nebraska (Coventry = Asshole)).

Finally, you can rest easy: I will not be participating in NaBloWriMo. Frequency of any upcoming posts may be only related to a funk finally dispersing.