Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Short Order Bit and a testimonial worth 1,000,000,000 plugs

But I took my kids to McDonalds to celebrate my second son's birthday lunch.

My oldest went to secure a table. We need a big one as you might imagine, and my second oldest ushered everyone into the play room where the table was, while I ordered with my youngest strapped down in a high chair.

The youngers ran to the play ground, began taking off their shoes and going into the tubes.

An 8 year old girl comes over to the table where my son is sitting and swipes at his arm, scratching him. "HEY! We were sitting here."

The table was clear of debris. The girl and her father or father figure had been leaving.

My son --according to his sister, "I'm sorry, no one was here and we're getting ready to eat as soon as my mom comes back with the food."

Father figure "You should move because my little Marcy is more important than you are."

My son "Well, that may be true, but I have seven other siblings. I think we trump Marcy."

They left.

A friend who reads this blog on a consistent basis said, "After reading, I always feel like I need a nap."

Chocolate for your Brain, it cures insomnia, exhaustion and the possibility of overwork!

Things to look forward to...working on a piece concerning traditions and birthday celebrations that has nothing to do with the very important little Marcy.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

An Interview with Captain Billy


Today, we had the good fortune to make contact with Captain Billy of the Pirate Parenting Guide, (link to your right) as taken down by Tim Bete on cocktail napkins between purchases of alcohol. Tim is a parent, published humorist and organizer of the Erma Bombeck Conference. Having purchased the book myself and read a good bit of it this summer, I still had questions for the Captain for those parents out there considering the commitment involved in raising Pirates rather than mere accountants, lawyers, teachers or other civic minded peoples.

If you have a question for Captain Billy, email me and I'll see if he might give us another visit for a bottle of good rum.

1) What do we do when one child shows a predisposition to be more of an Orlando Bloom type pirate than a Jack Sparrow?

Send him to Hollywood and keep him away from yer ship.

2) How do we explain the near unwatchableness of Pirates of the Carribean II and III to our brigadeers?

I can't remember watching either of those movies. But when I find two empty rum bottles in the morning, I usually can't remember much of the night before.

3) The crew nearly muntinied over last night's dinner of turkey burgers, boiled corn and raw carrots. Any tips on how to quell such an uprising?

Kids like to help prepare their own food. Next time, let the turkey go in the backyard and give each kid a dagger.

4) The economy is bad these days, there are precious few opportunities for looting and pillaging. What's an entreprenural pirate to do for extra pieces of eight?

The economy is bad? Not for a pirate. The profit margins on plundering are as high as ever. Besides, I invested in oil company stock five years ago. I got an insider tip from am oil company executive I was about to make walk the plank.

5) Can a pirate be an O's fan?

By "O" I assume you mean "octopus." I like 'em deep fried but not when giant ones be attacking me ship.

6) When the teacher complains about the fact that our son is signing all of his papers "X," she's dissatisfied with our explanation that we are committed to raising a future generation of pirates. Has there been any court cases which might support our chosen way of life where the parents weren't subsequently sent to jail and the home/compound bulldozed?

It sound like the teacher doesn't support cultural diversity. I'd report her to the school board for insensitivity to buccaneers. You might also try bribing her.

7) Do you know where we can get good financing on a Ship of the Line?

I use the "no money down" method in which I steal another ship when its crew is in port. I can handle those kind of payments.

Thanks for your time Captain Billy. Here's the rum I promised.

I do have to admit, telling kids it's time to swab the deck or I'll Kehawl yeh is much more satisfying emotionally than saying "For the fifth time,Clean your room!"

Proud to plug a fellow writer's published pieces and help out a good guy. For more fun try Humor-Blogs.com

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Better Parenting through Organizational Theory

All suffering has meaning. However discernment of that meaning is sometimes long in coming, if ever. This explains such realities as mosquitoes, the Cubs, several Saturday Night Live seasons in the early 90’s, and phone trees.

However, waiting for an air conditioning repairman who helpfully told me via automated message he’d be here today between 8 and 5, I had an epiphany. Maybe it was heat stroke. Stress from parenting could be mitigated to a much lower level if I simply adopted an organizational theory towards any and all potential crisis situations.

For those unfamiliar with the nuances of the business model that explains the organizational theory paradigm, think of every corporate entity as a huge amoeba. Any problem is viewed as an external threat, a stimulus like an electric shock that the amoeba attempts to diffuse such that it can remain unchanged by the experience. The whole point of such a structural arrangement is to devolve responsibility for all problems and issues such that no one is ultimately responsible for or capable of addressing the crisis.

Alternatively, the organization attempts to diffuse the anxiety and frustration on the part of aggrieved parties by delaying and parsing the problem at issue into insignificance. The billing company has nothing to do with the shipping company which has nothing to do with the manufacturing which has nothing to do with ordering or parts or technical support. Interconnectedness within an organization is kept secret from the outside to avoid a linking chain of responsibility. Hence the business gets to go on being a happy amoeba.

Knowledge may be power but knowing that corporations deliberately plan this hard to frustrate the consumer might lead to despair…or would except now I’m thinking…that could work for me.

“Mom! I need my swimsuit for Saturday.”

My middle daughter came to me, holding a bag containing at least two weeks of hidden laundry. Having spent the day before washing, drying and folding, having done a patrol for secret piles, having issued several calls for all dirty clothing, I had considered myself done for the week. Organizational theory to the rescue!

“I’m sorry, but my schedule is such that I can’t fit you in until next Wednesday.”

“But I need it in two days!”

“Sorry, but I’m booked. You might try other vendors providing laundry services. Otherwise, it’s Wednesday.”

“Fine! I’ll do it myself!” She stomped to the washing room and began working to take care of things.

I’m beginning to like this corporate paradigm. Just as I’m wondering if I can set hours for dinner, sometime between 8 and 5 tomorrow, a crisis occurs.

“Smack!” “Hey! Give that back!” “MOMMMMMMM!”

There is a race to the kitchen. I am sitting with my planner organizing the day.



Brain filing away the idea that my kids even tattle in iambic pentameter for another day’s article, I put out my hand. “Thank you for calling the Mom Helpline. For help in English, press the thumb now.”

My first grade daughter, bewildered, pushes my thumb.

“For emergencies involving blood or broken appliances, press the first finger.”

My preschool son is mesmerized, my daughter is smiling.

“For physical needs like food, water, bandages or dirty diapers, press the second finger.”

“For hugs, “I love yous,” stories read aloud or kisses, press the ring finger.” And I waved my fourth finger as a bit of extra customer service. My daughter presses it and gets a hug. My son does too and gets at kiss.

“For resolution of disputes such as fights, tattles, or unfair situations, press the pinky finger.”

My son touched the pinky.

“Thank you, please be advised that all calls may be monitored to ensure quality customer service. The current volume of calls may mean you are on hold for some time. Current estimated time of holding is five minutes.” I went over to the oven and set the timer.

“So can we talk to you yet?” My daughter asked.

“No, you’re on hold.” I explained.
“How long are we on hold?”

“Well, I set the timer, so why don’t you go play or color while you wait?”

“Okay Mom!” “Thanks Mom!”

The two went off to play and the timer went off and no one returned.
“That went well.” I thought.

I’m one big happy mommy amoeba. Now, if only the air conditioning repairman would show up.

I'd be an even happier amoeba if you'ld go rate me at humor blogs...yes it's fixed now so you can give an opinion. So far, I have a 1.Humor-Blogs.com

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Tai Chi of Summer

The lack of structure of Summer worried me before school was out, so I made lists and schedules and tried desperately to stick to them no matter what. Monday through Friday, breakfast at eight, followed by get dressed, make beds, math books, errands for the day.

It wasn’t all drudgery, afternoons were scheduled fun, Monday, Wednesday, Friday swimming lessons, Tuesday, library, Thursday, park. I thought I was being fair. As with all things, execution of the plan became a problem. Days kept getting crunched with dutiful things like doctor’s appointments and haircuts, grocery shopping and dry cleaning. Summer became an endless list of daily to do’s with fun scheduled and crunched around the efficiency of getting things done.

Then we had a four day weekend with my birthday sandwiched in the middle. Discovering my inner sloth, I reveled in the laziness of the whole first 48 hours. Paper plates, cake for breakfast, leftovers for meals, no laundry, it was bliss. The problem with that sort of binge is the mental hangover that follows. I got up that Saturday and considered whether I could justify one more morning breakfast of birthday cake.

“You should exercise.” My head told me. “You should start the day healthy.”
I wanted desperately to ignore it, but my brain then began an impossibly long screed of nags –do the dishes, clean the rooms, read a book, eat vegetables, run the errands, make a list, be responsible…the scroll at the bottom of the screen within my brain seemed to have no repeats, just an endless parade of no fun activities for me to finish, tackle, or do daily. Was this what my mouth sounded like to my children every day? No wonder they wanted to tune out and play Nintendo. Heck, I wanted to right now too.

Feebly muttering, “It’s my birthday week.” Didn’t hold. It kept spewing out to do items…update blog, write for Catholicmom, get your daughter to write thank you notes…I wanted to turn off my ears. “Alright! Alright!” I snapped and marched into the TV room to find an exercise DVD.

It wasn’t that my brain was wrong to say I should work out or that these tasks should be done. It was a question of balance. It was summer. It should be a time of celebration and cake and play and whimsy. I needed to strike a balance, a one-to-one ratio at least for the weekend, tasks to fun, seemed reasonable. A two-to-one ratio on week days, would allow for a good bit of kid and adult down time alike. I wanted to find the serenity of a cheesy martial arts instructor from a low grade movie, where there was serenity and order, and impulsive moves were paired with careful planning. Grabbing the DVD and feeling better for it, I thought about the rest of the day. This sort of habit would take diligence and practice on my part. “Best to start now.” My mollified superego urged.

My oldest son came into the room. “Hey son?”
“Rock Paper Scissors to see who takes out the garbage?” I thought he’d be tickled at the chance.
“Mom. Taking out the garbage is nothing.” He grabbed the bag and took it out.
And I was left almost stammering. “But I wanted to play…”

The kids were watching TV. I brought out the Nintendo, and offered to play Mario Cart and place a bet. If I won, Math books for everyone for two pages. If I lost, another round of games. You know that scene in movies where all the kids stare at the adult whose suddenly done a 180 and come around to their way of thinking and it weirds everyone out? It’s really scary when it happens in real life.

“Are you okay?”
“If you want us to do our math books, just say so.”
“Yeah. You don’t need to bribe us.”

The four children trooped out of the room, grabbed pencils and started in on their summer books. I was left again wondering, “What happened here?”

Sitting in the living room, waiting for my children to be free to play felt boring and even a tad pathetic. I went to the kitchen to do dishes. The baby crawled over and pulled on my leg. I began to play ball with her or try. She decided she had crawling to do and happily ambled off. I meekly finished the dishes. Didn’t anyone want to play with me?

The kids finished their math books. They had fired up the Nintendo. There wasn’t an open slot for me to play, but one of my daughters brought me my laptop. My enlightenment about summer had not changed the focus or ballance, it had just put me out of sync with my kids more than usual. I fumed silently.

“Mom? Since everything is done, why don’t you sit down and relax?” She asked, offering me my computer. My second son brought me a diet coke. I accepted the gifts, feeling both touched and sad. I went back to the kitchen to get one of the last pieces of birthday cake. Cutting it and placing it on a plate, my oldest daughter caught me serving it.

“I don’t think you should eat that. You really should exercise.” She chided. I put away the cake. “It’s good for you Mom. What did you write today?”

“Well I…”
She pointed to the computer.

Apparently, this grasshopper has much to learn.

For humor that has moved beyond the apprentice level, seek the wisdom and wit of humor blogs!>Humor-Blogs.com

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sticking it to me

On Monday, I received the results of my 1 hour glucose test. Actually, they phoned on Thursday July 3rd I had made a specific request not to be notified on my birthday if the results were unfavorable such that I could eat my cake in peace, so I waited to call back until after the 4th of July weekend.

My insurance offered me the opportunity for a three hour glucola test, meaning for the sheer joy of it, I could agree to fast for 12 hours, hire a babysitter, drink the glucola pop and drive to the lab to have my blood drawn, then sit for three hours and have it drawn again to be told emphatically, I did have gestational diabetes and then drive home to pay out thirty dollars for the privilege of being able to starve alone for three hours in between blood tests. I opted out of that privilege. Just hand over the glucometer I told the lab nurse.

Not so fast.

My insurance, in its infinite wisdom was not grateful for my sparing them the additional cost of a secondary test. They wanted me to call the training nurse’s office about getting the needed equipment. The Nurse office said to call the insurance to ensure that I was covered and could get a glucometer. Then I should call back.

“But the test said I need one. Why wouldn’t I qualify?”

“You have to call.”

The insurance said I had a choice of two companies with free glucometers to hand out. I just needed to call. I called the first company. The line was busy. So I called the second. They checked to agree that yes my insurance covered the glucometer and I’d have it in two days but I needed to call my doctor’s. My doctor would have to call the pharmacy and order the strips for the glucometer.

The pharmacy refused to take the order until they verified that the insurance company would cover the glucometer strips and that the company had sent a machine to me. I’d have to have them call the pharmacy after I received the glucometer. Then I’d have to call the nurse that started this mess because the insurance required that I receive training from the nurse before using the machine. I called. The nurse said they could schedule a visit but it would take a few weeks and asked if I could wait on hold for a scheduling consultant.

Pointing out that I knew how to use a glucometer, had experienced gestational diabetes on more than one occasion and knew the basics did not discourage them from 1) refusing to allow the doctor to call the pharmacy for strips until I got trained or 2) persuade them to up the training schedule from some time after never, to soon. The scheduling consultant was out at lunch. They’d call me back later in the day to schedule a training day sometime in the next three weeks. My baby is due in 11 weeks. Twenty one days seemed a bit long.

So I went to my obgyn’s. She’s known me for years. I told her about the mess. It would make a good article she told me as she handed over sample test strips to hold me over. I wasn’t sure anyone wanted independent verification of reality being that difficult, but agreed to stick myself four times a day. The nurse called and my training would occur in 17 days. In the meantime, I was to watch my sugar.

So I settled into sticking myself four times a day, but this was a new glucometer and so I actually needed some training. I thought there was something amiss because the readings were supernaturally low. Over the phone with my doctor's office, the nurse and I figured out I needed to recalibrate each time I started a new small canister of strips, so three days of sticks at least were invalid. Joy.

My doctor also then advised me it was time to get a Rhogram shot and to come in and get the prescription. No biggie. I’ve been getting them ever since my first child sensitized me. It’s my own fault for not having a positive outlook, bloodwise speaking. Picking up the paper from the doctor, the prescription required I be tested to see if I needed Rhogram.

“Why do I need to be tested? We know I need a shot. I’m B negative and I’ve had the shot with all prior pregnancies…”

“The insurance requires…”

So next week, I get to go to the lab. Have my blood drawn. Sit (You cannot leave for the two hours the test takes to get the results, otherwise the results are deemed invalid), and then get a shot in the rump. I’m bringing all eight kids. We’ll find out how true the two hour wait is…and whether the nurse really wants to have me in the waiting room that long. I’ll let the kids bring snacks. It will be a pain for sure, but probably worth an article or too.

The things I suffer for my children and my art.

For more fun than fooling with insurance, blood sugar and shots that aren't alcoholic in nature, try www.humor-blogs.com! May my sugars run low and my ranking with humor blogs, drop more than if I took a double shot of insulin...wait...that doesn't sound quite right....okay, I'm shooting for the top 50! Go rank me already.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ten Percent Mental

Experts say that a woman’s brain shrinks during pregnancy by 10%. I don’t believe it. According to science theory, matter cannot be destroyed or created, only transformed…and to my way of thinking, grey matter is no different than any other matter for that matter.

But it is a convenient excuse.

So I am torn morally and mentally…I could wave off my shirking of intellectual responsibility for my own continued education based on hormones. I could rest on my dusty laurels of academic achievement by claiming to be intellectually incapable of managing. But pregnancy eventually ends. That means I’ll have to assume responsibility at some point for my own mental faculties faultiness.

The problem is, I’m a vain little thing. I dislike thinking that there is something I "can't" understand or master. I don't even like the word "Can't" in my vocabulary. And it isn't just a case of being unwilling to acknowledge the barriers of my own brain, it's with respect to the body as well. I have kick boxed at 8 months pregnant, just to show it was possible. Don’t ask me who I was showing, we all know it was me.

It’s a very simple case of pure self delusion. I dislike limitations on my intellect, talent and physical ability and seek actively to disprove them whenever they pop up. Once, I spent three days on a super hard Sudoku just because I wasn’t going to be defeated by a mental puzzle even if I had to Xerox it three times and start over to eventually get it right. I am annoyed whenever I fail to guess who done it in a mystery novel. My brain IQ may not be Mensa worthy, but my ego says it is, and that it’s just that I don’t test well.

So I don’t want to surrender even that 10% to pregnancy, no matter the facts. I have to own my sloth and slacker ways and keep trying to prove I could have been a mental contender. For example, I keep checking out Joyce’s Ulysses from the library, and trying to read it so I can then nail the book on a wall like a stuffed boar’s head trophy with the date it was successfully endured engraved on a brass plate. I never get very far before I have to return it. If I bought the damn thing, it would eliminate my exculpatory excuse for not finishing.

Every summer, I make great plans to learn Spanish and master American history the way my husband and son can recite it with love and accuracy, and settle for memorizing the list of presidents in chronological order, watching a few PBS historical documentaries and having suffered through two or three sides of a language tape, two Spanish, one French. (It’s all I could find in our collection of cassettes). Then I sniff out loud, mollifying my wounded self that is chaffing at all the work and my unwillingness to persist at the same time, “Well, I took Latin anyway, so it’s reasonable that I don’t know French or Spanish.” As if I could actually say anything in Latin.

And I eat smart food like blueberries and pomegranates and fish when it’s fresh. I read things that bore me and listen to classical music or jazz, straining in my disingenuousness to prove somehow, I’m urbane, sophisticated and elite intellectually, and not a mere suburban house mom. I want to be the kind of person who would get the jokes in the New Yorker so well, she never bothered to read them. “Too telling.” I’d sniff.

Oh. How I’d love to be able to know enough to be a snob about something; wine, politics, literature, baseball, music, art, anything at all. Someone who gets “it,” whatever “it” is.

In the meantime, I’m just assuming, whatever it is I haven’t learned or mastered, it’s because of that missing 10%.

To find the other ten percent, click on over to http://www.humor-blogs.com if you liked this post and give me a smilie...it will molify my ego which clearly is in need of some serious praise, and if not, well, humility is good for the soul.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Taking This Week Off!

This blog has been a chore rather than a joy lately. I need to take a week to recharge and start writing stuff that has some substance. Chocolate For your Brain will return July 13th. Thank you for reading and for stopping by.

Have a margarita and a chocolate dove bar in the meantime. Go fish. Listen to Jimmy Buffett and relax. It will be a fast week.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Coca-cola Formula One for Fantasy Writers

It begins in a far away place with a lonely foster son. His adopted family has cared for him but at the same time, failed to recognize or acknowledge his inherent specialness. His secret power that is even unknown to himself, owing to not having any known past, lays languishing, undiscovered until he witnesses an act of extreme heroism and/or violence that rouses him to action. He helps in some small and admittedly lucky capacity but the result is that the person he helped, recognizes his “potential.” The saved person is a man of mystery, and yet of the world, whom the commoners ignore or consider “strange.” Our would be languishing hero is of course, drawn to him and trust him instantaneously, be he Aragorn, Hagrid or Obi Wan Kenobi.

In a rush of exposition, he is removed from the bland local landscape of peasants and poor, brought to a place of peace, bounty, excellence and knowledge. Yet all this perfection is tinged with sadness, it is dying if only because no one has come with the sacred power, the chosen one, the ring, or the number of mitocondrians necessary to rejuvenate the perfect world and recall its glory days. The apprentice hero is loaded with gifts and given a stern lecture by the all knowing super mentor that knows what he is capable of becoming. This usually results in a pondering soliloquy or equally dense dialogue between the “strange hero” who has plucked this youth out of obscurity, and the mentor, with whom the strange hero goes way way back, lots of emotional baggage. The hero is accepted, he shouts yippee or mugs a grin or claps his hands as he begins his jedi/wizard/training. He is tested, during which he makes friends, enemies and comes to grip with just the beginning of his true origin. This is usually when comic relief is added and a few precious bits of dialogue that are not simply plot exposition.

Part of that origin is the story of the death of his actual family, and the decision by those who acted as surrogates to hide him away, in a basket in the water, in a home with muggles, at Bag End fishing, and on Tattoie fixing space pods racers and dealing with jawas. Discovery brings with it self knowledge and awareness of the family grudge score that has not yet been settled. Anger in the young prodgeny threatens to destroy his destiny, but with the aid of friends, a good woman, a faithful older man with a sword and a funny lovable side kick or two, he masters his emotions and his power.

In his final quest to rid the world or universe depending upon the genre, of evil, he will make mistakes and someone will be lost either through a betrayal or perceived betrayal, a mistake in judgement, or due to poor preparation on the part of our hero. He will stiffen his resolve and strengthen from this loss, as the female in his band suddenly discovers she finds him attractive and works to support his efforts in the quest.

The resulting giant climax between good and evil will take place only after the original plan to do something far more discreet fails, resulting in two of the following three things happening.
1) Death of villain, after he refuses mercy.
2) Final revelation of Villain and Hero’s relationship.
3) Conversion of villain, resulting in transformation of whole world.

Grand Finale wedding style feast which praises heroes, allows for the girls to kiss the boys, wounds to have been neatly cleaned up, and final cast of character bows with music, drums, firecrackers, food, wine, shiny medals and smiling faces.

This of course is top secret and usually what were unnecessary plot strings left unraveled will be pulled apart in the prequels and sequels that follow for oodles of dollars. Be sure to include some furry creatures in subsequent books/films, so as to garner profits from plush replicates purchased by fan boys everywhere.

Next week: The Guide to writing Romance: Hint...forbidden love,gives meaning to an otherwise bland existence that is pure duty and drudgery, which allows the individual loved to achieve artistic/personal fulfillment, even at the expense of everyone else in the world. Everyone else understands when that love, then surrendered for the good of the world, via death or honor, is discovered. Everone else except perhaps one or two immature individuals who exemplify selfishness and poor judgement in the story, gets the importance of this romance and views the affair as having been meaningful and necessary for the individual in question to achieve personhood.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Game Masters of the House

Summer unstructured time had gotten out of hand. Kids would get up and begin foraging immediately in the morning for ice cream, turn on the computer or the Nintendo and promptly become utterly inert except for the twitching of their thumbs. Occasionally, I had been able to bribe/coax/threaten them into engaging in summer reading or going swimming or even, (gasp) picking up their clothing, but the general rhythm of the day was sloth, followed by furious bouts of eating, followed by more sloth and occasional sojourns into fighting. Radical discipline and creative parenting was required to reign in these children that had become wild in the weeks between the end of school and summer camp.

Day One Intervention: Discipline by setting limits. “You may stare at any screen for an hour each day. But only for one hour.” Gaming the system was rampant…I was walking by…I’m not watching, I’m holding the baby…I got up during commercials so I still have fifteen minutes…I traded with my brother for making his bed so I get another hour. By the end of the day, while actual viewing time had been reduced measurably from non-stop to still wretchedly excessive, I felt exhausted from the effort. There had to be an easier way.

Day Two Intervention: Carrot and Stick. I took away the remotes, the cable connectors and changed the passwords on the computers. “If you want these things, the following things must occur.” I had thoughtfully written out index cards with 3-5 things depending upon child and level of competency. Passing them out, I instructed, “You must have me inspect or verify that each item on the list has been done.” Here, speed became the incentive, and as such, the children raced through two pages of math, made their beds and each did their individual chore and practiced their trombone/piano/saxophone the allotted amount of time. I should have felt euphoric, but at ten in the morning, the kids were all again parked at machines and I felt like if I fussed, it would seem I was reneging on the deal. The house looked great but the kids were tuned out. They were missing summer. The method needed refinement. I made the addendum of no trading, commercials counted, and ”if you were caught watching, it counted!” to the next day’s index cards.

Day Three: Now I had them. I could play crafty too. I had collected all electronic devices, demanded the one hour limit and included in each card “Play a game with your siblings that does not involve a screen.” The subsequent number of times I had to take on the role of Judge Mom to manage the competitive and vaguely hostile Monopoly game meant that this too, was as of yet, an unperfected means to my desired end, children entertaining themselves with something other than a computer, Nintendo or gaming system.

Day Four: Feeling tired, I had become sarcastic. I summoned the top five children, the main culprits and gamers of my attempt at a system. I had them sit at the table. I set the timer.

“Everyone will punch their fingers on the table for the next five minutes. Punch as hard as you like. Punch as often as you can. You may alternate fingers and hands but must not stop. Go.”

“This is hard Mom.”
“My hands are cramping up.”
“This is boring!”
“Why are we doing this?”

“No! No. No. Keep going. Five minutes is all I’m asking. This should be easy. Everyone, start cheering for each other to keep at it.”

I got a few half hearted Mom-is-nuts cheers before the questions started up again.
“Come on guys, you do this all the time. Your thumbs must be up to the challenge now.”

“Mom. What are we doing?”

“Virtual gaming. See, this way, each of you can play the game you want. Each of you has a controller and is in charge. It’s just like playing the actual game right?”

Disgust does not begin to describe the looks I got, but it did make each child feel modestly sheepish when they sat down to play gamecube.

Day 5: The Power went out from a thunderstorm. “God is on my side. See?” I pointed to the lifeless screens that now seemed only to take up space. I passed out flashlights and summer reading books. Not seeing an alternative, they grudgingly marched away with tomes I just knew would capture their imaginations and delight their brains. I felt so potent as a parent at moment, I went around unplugging every device that might accidentally give away when the power was restored, just in case it happened too soon.

Day 6: Rapture. Power is still out. The kids are reading their books and the oldest comes to me to ask if they can go on a group bike ride. Joyous at the creative leadership being exercised by my son, I agree. He makes sure everyone has helmets that fit, that they all have water bottles and that he has his cell phone. They are going to ride to a friend’s house that is about a mile away. Feeling like a supermom as I watch them ride off. The phone rings.

“Do you need me to store anything like milk or eggs? If so, send them with your kids. We still have power. They’re coming over because Ben and Jake just got a Wii and can’t wait to show it off.”

Victory this time around, was theirs…it’s going to be a long summer.

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!