Saturday, July 30, 2011

476. That Time I Won Employee of The Month

It was an ordinary day. I made myself a triple espresso and went to work. Customers started streaming in the door as we unlocked it at 10 AM. We were busy, and I lost myself in trying to be the very best high-end kitchen store salesperson I could be.

I sold knives and sets of pans. I gift-wrapped cookbooks and bridal presents. I handed out samples of grilled chicken in Valencia sauce. It was an ordinary day.

A lady in a large straw summer hat walked up to the counter with a vanilla-scented liquid soap refill and some ceramic storage containers she’d found on the sale table for about $15 (marked down from the original price of $75).

“Hello! Are you ready to check out?” I chirped merrily, like someone whose triple espresso was just kicking in.

“Yes, but I want someone nice to help me.”

(*Editor’s note: We all know that MOV makes a lot of stuff up. However, this last part was, surprisingly, not manufactured in MOV’s bloggy brain just to make a good story, but instead is absolutely, so-help-me-God, 100% true: The customer said, “someone nice.” Yes, this implies that she thinks MOV is not someone nice.)

What could I do? I laughed.

“I’m nice!” I flashed her my big white-teeth smile, the one my sons are mildly afraid of when I read them stories about The Big Bad Wolf complete with voices and wolf teeth.

“No one in this entire store has been very helpful to me since the moment I walked in,” she pouted, crossing her arms across her chest.

“Well, Holden is very nice!” I said, attempting to flag down one of my managers so I could pawn off this bizarre customer onto him. Holden sent me a mental telepathy message that he was busy with another customer (or maybe that was actually him on my ear-piece walkie-talkie: “MOV, I’m busy with another customer,”).

Straw hat lady turned around, looking for Holden, who was not there. She turned back to face me and blinked.

“So, is this all you need today, then?” I started scooping the items up to scan them, and at this point straw hat lady impulsively added a rooster apron to the pile.

“No one was nice to me,” she insisted, scowling, as she shoved the apron toward me, making me not want to be very nice to her.

“I love these canisters!” I said abruptly. “I almost bought them!”

She glared at me. She did not want me loving the same canisters she had picked.

At this point, I realized I was getting nowhere trying to be nice to her, trying to make up for the phantom sales associate who had apparently been mean to her.

“Why is everyone here so rude?” she hissed.

Why are you so crazy? I said to her in my head.

“Your total is $23.88.”

She swished her credit card through the machine, and her receipt printed out.

I looked down at the heavy canisters. They were made of white ceramic and were intended to hold flour, sugar, and coffee. The normal MOV, the “nice” one, would usually go in the back stock-room to wrap something fragile like this in “pillow paper,” (which is essentially spongey brown paper on a roll with tissue paper in between). We use it at the high-end kitchen store to pack hand-blown wine glasses, French porcelain serving pieces, ceramic cheese platters, or anything else in danger of breaking.

I wasn’t feeling very nice at this moment.

At the register, we have newsprint paper to wrap pasta sauces and jars of jam. Good enough. I quickly wrapped her canisters in the cheap newsprint.

Next, I automatically reached for one of our woven fabric bags with the bumble bee logo on the front. These bags are not only sturdy, but also beautiful, and people inevitably keep them to use for their groceries or library books. I stopped myself. Straw hat lady had not been very nice saying that I was not nice the moment she met me, so why on Earth did she deserve one of our signature re-useable bags? She didn’t.

I opened up the plain paper bag instead and carefully slid in the canisters, all the while thinking, Hey, if you had been half-way nice to me, you would be getting pillow paper and an expensive fabric bag, you big ol’ meanie!

What I said: “Here ya’ go, thank you, have a great day,” as I handed her the heavy bag. She took the bag, grunted at me, then walked out of the store.

“MOV, I need to speak with you.”

Holden had appeared out of nowhere. He was holding some sort of official-looking form in his hand. “Right now, please.”

I could feel my face flush red. Had I not been polite to snotty straw hat lady the entire time? I rewound the scene in my head, like Customer Service Groundhog Day: Are-you-ready-to-check-out, I-love-these-canisters, thank-you-have-a-great-day. What could possibly be wrong? Did I sound like I was being sarcastic to her? Was Holden a mind-reader now? Was he going to write me up?

Was he going to fire me?

“Holden, uh, I need to restock bags, can we talk a little later?”


The other employees had wandered up to the cash register area, like a little party. Great, witnesses. They were all going to see me get fired so they could gossip about me later and inevitably post it on their Facebook pages.

Holden cleared his throat and started reading off his form:

“We would like to thank MOV for her four years of dedicated service and exemplary service here at the high-end kitchen store. It is salesclerks like MOV that make our store the number one store in the district …”

This was a very strange way to fire someone. Was this a joke? The other employees were grinning and nodding at me in that sincere way they sometimes have. Words were dancing in the air, pirouetting and doing grand jetes, lovely phrases fluffing up their flattering tutus …

“… and in conclusion, we notice and appreciate how MOV goes above and beyond with all her customers, making each one feel happy and want to return again and again …”

Who was MOV? Who was he talking about?

“… and that’s why, you, MOV, have been voted as Employee of The Month! Congratulations!”

The other employees started clapping. I thought they might throw confetti or even produce a big cake.

“You deserve it!”

“Customers love you!”

“Way to go!”

“MOV, do you have anything to say?”

I smiled. “Is this a bad time for me to give my two weeks’ notice?”


Thursday, July 28, 2011

475. That Time I Wanted To Be A Bank Teller

I was still in college. It was summer. I needed a job. I thought long and hard about what type of job would suit me and cater to my needs, mostly my need to have extra spending money. Why not go right to the source? I got a job at a bank.

Here at the bank, I could touch other people’s money all day long. I think “pet” might be too strong a word in this case, it might have been more like—

Wait, let me back up and tell you how exactly I got the job (and no, this time was not through a headhunter named Kimberli):

I rifled through the newspaper, set aside the beckoning “Style” section (I will come back to you later, Style! I promise!), and unfolded the “Help Wanted” section. (Obviously, this was waaaaaay back in the days before computers and electricity and cars and probably even wheels.) I took the top off my trusty yellow highlighter (left over from my Psych 101 class) and circled a few ads that looked appealing. Ads like, “Wanted: Markteing Representtve, great oportunoty, work 3 days/ wk, pay is potentialy $50K per year. No experiese neccsary!”

An ad for “Bank Teller Training Classes” flung itself off the page at me (mostly because it was spelled correctly) and demanded I pick up my (rotary) phone and dial the 800 number. After I made the call, I made another important call: to my father, who I needed to ask for the $300 to pay for the class.

My father is the kind person who never once looks at his watch while a family of 17 baby ducklings crosses the street, making him miss 10 green lights.  My father is the kind of person who will lose his place in line at Starbucks to help an old lady in a wheelchair struggling to get the door open.  He smiles at people he doesn't know, and he picks up stray trash that is not even his to throw away in the garbage can.  Clearly, he is my polar opposite in every way.

He did not say to me what the 42-year-old MOV would most definitely say to my young sons if they asked for $300 for some scam Bank Teller Training Class: “Three hundred dollars? Are you out of your mind? You don’t need some idiotic class! They are just trying to make money off of you! The bank that hires you will teach you what to do. And honestly, how hard can it be? You just need to know how to count.”

What he did say, “The bank that hires you will teach you what to do.”

This is the part where I whined and begged and tried to convince my (wise) father that the class was of utmost importance and the bank manager would most likely not even give me the oh-so-coveted interview slot without the golden certificate.

“MOV,” he said, not unkindly, “It would probably take you two weeks to earn back the $300 that the class costs. Maybe just apply to the bank you want to work at, and see what happens?”

Is it any wonder I turned out so neurotic with such an incredibly unreasonable dad like that?

I had no choice, and no check for $300. I did what he said. The bank hired me immediately AND they did not even so much ask if I had taken a Bank Teller Training Class!

I liked working at the bank, but then one day I woke up and realized that even though I got to “visit” the money every day, it was not technically mine. I needed a job where I would make lots and lots of money, more money than I could possibly count, a job like …

Flight Attendant.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

473. That Really Old New Tradition

Mother’s Day shows up, all flowers and hearts and hand-drawn cards, everyone loves Mommy. Father’s Day looks at his watch, waiting impatiently for his turn. After the last cake crumbs are licked off the plates, a small squeaky voice says imploringly, “Why do you people get all the holidays? What about us kids?”

The Husband and I exchange a smile. I remember saying these exact same words to my parents, with the weathered response of “But every day is Kid Day.”

Not so fast. Why not invent a holiday? Why not start a new tradition?

“You’re absolutely right, Tall,” I hear the words come tumbling out of my mouth, “You guys should have your own holiday. Get out the calendar, and let’s pick a day.”

He bolts to the kitchen, and grabs the calendar off the bulletin board, tacks flying, before I have a chance to change my mind. He returns to the table, breathless.

I can read the alphabet letters swirling around in his brain. They spell out: Is this how easy it is? All you have to do to invent a holiday is assign it a square on the calendar?

“Okay,” Queen Virgo starts in methodically because she likes her holidays spread out neatly equidistant throughout the year, “January is too close to Christmas, what about February?”

“No, Valentine’s Day,” offers Short helpfully.

“Right. February is out. March is our anniversary, what about April?”

“No, Easter,” the boys announce in unison.

“May is your birthday,” I squeeze The Husband’s hand, “And also Mother’s Day, June is Father’s Day, Short—your birthday is in July, umm, nothing’s going on in August? Would August work?”

I look around the table. Nodding and grinning.

In my head, I finish the year out: September is my birthday; October? Halloween; November, Thanksgiving; and December, Tall's birthday and of course Christmas.

August it is.

“Then what day in August?” inquires Tall pragmatically.

“Umm … hmm, Sweetie, what do you think?” I turn to The Husband, who I can tell is not quite sure who empowered his lovely wife to go around sanctioning new holidays.

“Oh, I get to have some input now? I think August first. Then it’s easy to remember.”

“Done. From now on, August first is officially Brother’s Day. We will celebrate it every year by doing whatever you boys want. And I can even promise you that you can always skip school on Brother’s Day.”

“Well, let’s go bowling then!” enthuses Short, ignoring/ not getting my “no school” joke.  

“I vote for movies!” says Tall, as if today is already August first.

“I say miniature golf,” adds The Husband.

“Hey, I like that idea,” I laugh, “We’ve never done that before.”

Short interrupts, “And pizza! Pizza for dinner! Don’t forget pizza!”

“I have a great idea,” says Tall, “let’s do ALL those things.”

I’d better start saving my money now. I think Brother’s Day is going to be an expensive holiday.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

472. Motherhood Is Water

Water is refreshing. Water is the life force that connects us all. It can be angry (the ocean during a storm), calm (a lake), or happy (a gurgling fountain). Everyone loves water; but it can also drown you.

When I became a mother, it was initially refreshing. And by “refreshing,” I mean I had to refresh my memory about everything I thought I had learned in my nine months of studying up on what to do with a baby. Because I actually knew nothing.

Squash newborn floppy head into a onesie? Not a clue. How to get baby spit-up stains out of favorite clothes? Just throw them in the trash, they’re ruined. What to do when infant screams all night for no apparent reason? Hold him, feed him, and invest in a really great set of Bose noise-reduction headphones.

I look around at all the beleaguered mommies at the pediatrician’s office. They are there to get shots and yearly check-ups for that sweet new life that society calls “child,” but they should beg for a nice little Vicodin or Percocet prescription for themselves while they happen to be in a medical facility.

Force. We do everything by force, of course. Force him to brush his teeth, force her to go to the bathroom, force them to do their homework, force him to apologize for inadvertently using a little too much, uh, force (that word again!) and leaving a nasty bruise when he kicked his brother's leg. The force is with us.

Motherhood is all about connections. Connections to distant family, connections by phone and email, connections with new neighbors and friends, connections to teachers, connections to the right toy store employee who always calls with a friendly reminder the day before a big sale.

I can be angry. Angry about not being listened to, angry about being ignored.

I can be calm, usually as the school bus pulls away and both my kids are on it. I feel beautiful turquoise waves of calm wash over me. This feeling last until 3:30.

I am happy (most of the time). Happy my sons are happy, happy they are healthy and smart and lucky.

Yet I drown. Daily. I am drowning in laundry, drowning in the experience of motherhood, drowning in the excessive paperwork required to be an accepted card-carrying “parent” (Social Security cards/ bank accounts/ immunization records/ macaroni artwork/ Target coupons/ library books/ Kindergarten class photos/ birthday party invitations/ magazine articles telling me how to do it all and have it all, yet the magazine never actually sends the assistant over to demonstrate), drowning in trying to fulfill everyone’s (society’s? my husband’s? my own?) unrealistic expectations.

But mostly I drown in love.

("My Ordinary Vision")

Friday, July 22, 2011

470. Fun Games To Play With Baby

When The Husband and I were newly married and living in California, we bought our first house: a 1913 Craftsman fixer-upper. Over the next two years, we diligently set about pouring every paycheck we earned into renovating and improving the house, saving the exterior for last. We had the outside painted (hilarious post about painting house, come back and read later)  a dark navy blue, and we had new sod brought in. As the lawn services guy unfurled our gorgeous sod as if it was a roll of carpet, he said to me with solemn authority, “You MUST water your lawn. Daily. Hourly, even, for the first two weeks, or it will all die.”

I took his words to heart. He had a picture of a lawnmower and some flowers painted on the side of his van, so he must know what he was talking about.

I quickly got into a routine of watering the lawn several times a day to keep it alive and prevent our invested dollars from withering in the neon Los Angeles sunlight. However, Tall was a 4-month-old baby at the time, and a clingy one at that. If he wasn’t napping, then he wanted to be with me, and he would howl if I tried to escape for five minutes to water the grass. Inevitably, sometimes I would just have to bring him outside with me.

I tried holding him in the Baby Bjorn snuggli-like contraption, but it was difficult to bend and lift the hose and basically do what I needed to do. I got smart and brought him out in his bouncy seat/ infant carrier instead.  I placed him carefully on the front porch right within my view. 

As he inhaled the fresh air, he seemed to truly enjoy the outside world, and he was fascinated with stray butterflies and also his own toes.

I would water-water-water about 10 feet away from him, constantly talking and checking in with him so he knew I was there. He would smile and laugh, then notice his toes again. This went on quite nicely for the first five days or so.

One day, in the middle of watering, Tall was cooing and being so cute and sweet, I was dying for some interaction with him. I wanted to be one of those spontaneous moms who comes up with clever and original activities to play with her child. I wanted to be that mom at the park that the other moms say, “Wow, she sure has a great relationship with her child! Look how she adores him, and look at his reaction to her, too!” I had the super-fun idea to spray an itsy-bitsy mist of water on him to say, “Hey, look over here! Mommy loves you! Hi, Cutie-Pie!”

Tall was a baby that really enjoyed the water. He loved rain, he loved taking a bath, he loved looking at the ocean; this benign little splash game I invented was sure to be a hit.

Even though this child had lived in our household for the past 120 days and I thought I knew his temperament, I had made a gross miscalculation. Tall did not consider this to be the “fun” game that Mommy had intended: no.

He considered these tiny drips of water to be a direct assault on all his senses.

Even though the drips of water were—in reality—akin to a fine mist, like a mere sneeze, to him, it seemed like a torrential downpour.

I have no idea what his baby mind was thinking in that moment, but judging by his screaming, it could not have been good.

Of course, I immediately dropped the hose and went rushing over to my screaming child. The only water on him was the water he was producing from his own tear ducts. But he was still hysterical.

I scooped him up and held him. He cried and cried and cried some more. I felt horrible. It is one thing for your baby to cry because he is hungry or tired; it is another thing entirely for him to cry because of some stupid “fun” game you just invented.

I was worried the neighbors would come by and accuse me of getting water on my child, or that the police might come and lock me up for lack of mommy skills. Neither happened.

That evening when The Husband came home from work, I desperately wanted to tell him about my misguided attempt at fun with baby, but I couldn’t. I was too embarrassed. Instead, I said,

“Sweetie, do you think you could take over watering the lawn from now on? It’s hard for me with Tall.”

“Just put him in his bouncy seat on the front porch.”

“Yeah, uh, I know—I did that. I just think it would go smoother if you took care of it.” I tried to adopt a look on my face that was both convincing and non-guilty.

“What’s the problem? He loves being outside.”

“Well, honestly, what it is … I think he’s too hot.”

“Well, okay, MOV, in that case, I can water the yard. Oh, but I have a better idea! Why don’t you just spray a little bit of water on Tall to cool him off? He loves water.”


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

468. Wicked Twins

The Husband surprised me with second row seats for Wicked for my 36th birthday next month! (And by “surprised,” I mean I purchased the tickets online myself and announced to him that that’s what I wanted. And by “36th” birthday, I mean 43rd.) I have been dying to see it ever since it first came out on Broadway in 2003. I am vaguely familiar with the premise: a spin on the iconic Wizard of Oz—but from the Wicked Witch’s point of view.

Everyone wants to be perfect Glinda, but at my core, I know I am a little bit Wicked. Let’s pretend Glinda and Wicked are both moms. Indulge me in a little “Compare and Contrast:”

Glinda: President of the PTA
Wicked: What’s PTA?

Glinda: Makes kids’ lunches from organic ingredients, preferably from her own garden.
Wicked: Makes kids’ lunches … sometime before dinner.

Glinda: Does all laundry the same day it gets dirty, which includes folding it and putting it away, and possibly ironing.
Wicked: Does all laundry the same year it gets dirty, which includes threatening her husband and kids that they will have to do their own laundry, and possibly crying.

Glinda: Schedules activities to entertain and enrich her kids over summer break.
Wicked: Schedules her kids’ activities to coincide with the Top Chef marathon so she can get caught up on episodes she missed.

Glinda: Favorite subject when she was in school: Advanced Nuclear Physics.
Wicked: Favorite subject when she was in school: Lunch.

Glinda: Vacations in the Caribbean, yearly.
Wicked: Dreams of vacation in the Caribbean, daily.

Glinda: House looks like the Pottery Barn catalog.
Wicked: Likes to look at the Pottery Barn catalog.

Glinda: Puts time and effort into her appearance.
Wicked: Would like to put more time into sleeping.

Glinda: Caught up on all correspondence, thank you notes, and bills.
Wicked: Still looking for stamps.

Glinda: When acquaintances approach her at the grocery store, greets them with a trademark hug and friendly conversation.
Wicked: When acquaintances approach her at the grocery store, ducks down the wine aisle to avoid them.

Glinda: Favorite saying: “For hope is but the dream of those that wake.”
Wicked: Favorite saying: “TGIF.”

Glinda: Patience of a saint, preschool teacher, and a seasonal Disneyland employee, all rolled into one.
Wicked: Patience of a two-year-old, a feral dog, and a DMV worker, all fighting at once.

Glinda: Prefers Neiman Marcus and Saks.
Wicked: Does not prefer Target and the Goodwill, but goes there anyway.

Glinda: Refuses to play silly mom-competition games because, well, she’ll win.
Wicked: Refuses to play silly mom-competition games because, well, she’ll lose.

Glinda: Never whines. Ever.
Wicked: Drinks wine. A lot.

Glinda: First one to be invited to a party.
Wicked: Last one to leave.

(“Mom’s Our Villain”)

Monday, July 18, 2011

467. Keeper of The Photos

I just got back from Rite Aid, $25 worth of photos in my hand. This is not what I consider to be a frivolous expense: images of birthday candles, soccer matches, swim lessons, and preschool graduation certainly outrank banal purchases like shampoo and deodorant. Although The Husband agrees with my Kodak logic, it would never occur to him to print these pictures and put them in an album. That’s strictly my job.

When I get home, I peruse old albums to rewind the clock—there I am pregnant, there’s Tall playing in the autumn leaves, here we are in Colorado, oh the Tooth Fairy came! The events that form the exclamation marks for the sentences and paragraphs of our everyday life.

I record them, I savor them, I memorize them.

I am now on a first name basis with the clerk at the photo counter. He gives me discounts for no reason.

My mother wore a Nikon around her neck like jewelry. She posed us in front of the Six Flags sign, or the pier holding up the shells we found, or playing the piano, or hugging the dog. One-two-three-say-cheese, the words synonymous with childhood. We have two dimensional proof that we mattered to our parents, that even though we patriotically moved again and again placing red pins in the map and never unpacking the boxes all the way, our mother cared enough to glue the love into a book.

I flip through the greeting cards and movie ticket stubs and airline tickets, yellowing with age at the edges, taped neatly in my childhood scrapbook, my mother’s precise writing narrating the events. Did I really fly to Atlanta, or did I dream it? The ticket blinks up at me, daring me to forget.

My sons will have their own special albums, laced with emotion and pride and admiration and devotion. The photos blurry, the love clear.

I realize I have not exhaled in the past five minutes, so entranced with these 4 by 6 pieces of paper. I catch my breath.

One by one, I slide the pictures into the plastic album sleeves. I pause at an image of Short laughing hysterically while Tall is making a silly face for the camera. The photo captures the mood perfectly, and my sons have captured my heart.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

464. Motherhood Is Hypnotic

Hypnosis: An artificially induced state of relaxation and concentration in which deeper parts of the mind become more accessible: used clinically to reduce reaction to pain, to encourage free association, etc.

Seven and a half years ago, your naïve spouse drove you to the emergency room with an extra pillow, your favorite movies (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and National Lampoon’s Vacation), a digital camera, and a gender-neutral baby outfit, size: extra-tiny. Fourteen long hours later, you were officially a mother.

You have not relaxed since.

You didn’t relax that time one of your sons was balancing on the top of the TV cabinet. You didn’t relax when your other son catapulted down the playground slide head first. You forgot to relax when one of them (you forget which one now) was choking on carrots. You would’ve maybe relaxed that night last week when both of them fell asleep immediately after bedtime stories, except that one woke up an hour later with a fever and an earache.

Yep, if you want any hard-earned relaxation, it is artificially induced.

Motherhood requires concentration. You must concentrate while you make breakfast (three different variations for three different people), remember to change out the laundry, put gas in the car, pick up the dry cleaning, take the cat to the vet, feed your neighbor’s dog while they’re on vacation, call Visa to convert your mileage points, send your sister’s birthday present, pick up milk at the grocery store, sign up your older son for soccer camp, drive your younger son to music class, and oh, yeah—take a shower. Even one more thing added to your list could cause your brain to explode, or severe global warming.

You try to access deeper parts of your mind to ask the deeper questions, questions like
  • What kind of childhood do you want for your kids?
  • How can you raise them to be responsible human beings?
  • How do you instill a genuine love of reading?
  • If you friend your ex-boyfriend on Facebook, will your spouse get really mad or just shake his head and laugh?
Your reaction to pain has been significantly reduced since having children. You take a kick to the neck with aplomb, an accidental elbowing of the groin with a fake smile, a karate chop to the eye with a laugh and a time-out, and a “But I didn’t mean to!” bite on the shoulder with a glass of Chardonnay and a call to your best girlfriend in California. If tolerance to pain were currency in the country of motherhood, you would be very rich indeed.

The only part of the motherhood equation that does not add up is the free association component. Oh, sure, you now associate with different people than you used to (pediatricians, teachers, toy store employees, Lego store managers, Baby Boutique proprietors, swimming coaches, babysitters, librarians, travel agents who have “Disney Specialist” printed on their business cards), but none of those associations are free. Your bank account continually hovers in the single digits due to the enrichment classes, toys, outfits, pool membership, insurance co-pays, and comic book subscriptions.

One quiet evening, your husband calls you over to the dining room table to witness the kids drawing contentedly (for once). They are engrossed in trying to copy Pokemon figures from their latest magazine. You look at their sweet little faces, and think:

Maybe childhood is hypnotic, too.


463. Is Target Virgo?

My obsession (bordering on stalking) with Target has been well documented. If the waking hours I’ve spent dancing the aisles in Target were tallied, they would equate to weeks or even entire months. If the sleeping hours spent dreaming about Target were computed, that number would most likely convert to decades.

This morning, I arrived at Target at 7:45 AM, and they were not yet open (they open at 8). This was a gross miscalculation on my part. I had 15 minutes to kill.

Normally, I would spend this extra time re-writing my list over and over and over and over, but today was different. I decided to relax and daydream. That’s when it hit me: Target is Virgo.

  • Virgos are famous for being neat, precise, and orderly: so is Target! I have been known to stand in the towel aisle for 10 minutes (maybe longer) and marvel at how every single towel is folded perfectly so, like a spa. And no one thinks it’s rude for me to take a picture here.
  • Virgos are bright: so is Target! The lights border on neon, but that just means I can see everything better.
  • Virgos would never tolerate a spill: neither would Target! Once, I saw a soda can and a messy chocolate croissant that had spilled in their café area. Within seconds, a red and tan-uniformed employee had swooped in to clean it all up. And they didn’t even charge me for the second soda and croissant.
  • Virgos have a penchant for beautiful things: so does Target! Everything is beautiful, from the melamine outdoor dinnerware to the cotton pajamas with flying monkeys to the woven straw hats in rainbow colors—I want one of each!
  • Virgos have a fun side: so does Target! Target has more toys than Santa’s workshop, and probably a better retirement plan.
  • Virgos are hyper-punctual: so is Target! That one time I was shopping at Target at 9:55 PM, they flickered the lights on and off, and announced politely but firmly, “Your favorite store of the universe will be closing in five minutes, so get the hell out!” (this also exemplifies Target’s playful side).
Oops, I’d love to add to my list, but it’ll have to wait: it’s 7:59, and I see they’re finally unlocking the doors.

(“Me:  Obsessively Virgo”)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

456. 10 Easy Steps for Authentic Parenting

  1. First, drag out dictionary and look up “authentic” to make sure you aren’t misusing the word (again). Sigh a big authentic sigh of relief when first definition listed is “true to oneself.” Yay—lying to others is still acceptable!
  2. Give children solid positive role models, other than lying parents. Maybe there are some nice authentic neighbors who live close by?
  3. Be true to yourself by lowering (obsessively high) pre-children standards. Replace gorgeous glass coffee table that must be Windexed every five minutes with wood coffee table that can withstand being kicked and spilled on every five seconds. To go with new child-centric lifestyle, consider painting formerly pristine “Snowy Morning” white walls a popular new shade by Benjamin Moore called “Spit Up.”
  4. Try to maintain a regular routine to make life easier. For example, go to library Tuesdays at 9 AM, music class Wednesday afternoons, swim lessons Monday and Thursday mornings, and happy hour every day starting at 5 on the dot. Children crave consistency!
  5. Make your children follow rules. Rules like cleaning up art supplies after making clay dinosaurs, clearing the table after dinner, and paying all your bills for you. Hey, isn’t that what a paper route is for?
  6. When nosy people in your life criticize your questionable parenting methods, look them right in the eye and say sarcastically, “Sure, I suppose I should listen to you because you obviously know all about children because you have some yourself, huh, Mom and Dad?”
  7. Try to add cultural enrichment to your children’s lives on a daily basis. For example, go to the zoo, or if you don’t feel like driving anywhere when it is 95 degrees out, just flip on the Nature Channel. Try to teach your kids how to cook, or if you don’t feel like turning on the oven and getting any pans dirty, just flip on Top Chef Masters.
  8. Studies have proven that children of all ages can benefit from naps. The best times for naps are 9:30 AM, 10 AM, 10:45 AM, 1 PM, 2:30 PM, 3:15 PM, and 4:20 PM. I recommend all those times.
  9. Feed your children authentic food. Good choices are foods made with real sugar (not fake sugar) like Baskin-Robbins ice-cream. (That is only if Haagen-Dazs is not available in your area.)
  10. When your children are behaving in an unacceptable way, such as whining incessantly in the check-out lane at Target, authentically turn to the clerk and say, “They are not with me. They followed me in here.”