Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Perfectly Messy, Noisy, & Zany Cloud of Oblivion

The first few weeks of the new school year always get me. My summer brain refuses to get up off its warm, sandy beach and dip a toe or two into the frigid ocean water of binder shopping and lunch making. But I'm Mom. So I must. 

When I finally do brave the dark deep, I find what I find every year - a battleground of other parents, eyelids as half-mast as mine, lips pursed, and attitudes that reek of I despise school supply shopping so nobody better get in my way! My kids begin filling my cart with mechanical pencils and calculators, as I trudge through the motions like everyone else. 

A tsunami of past school year Mom responsibilities/failures rumble in my head to the tune of "Rock You Like A Hurricane". I think of the time one of my sons was on a baseball team with green jerseys, and I went to pick up socks to match only to discover the store was out. The store was out because green isn't a popular color for jerseys in our area, so local stores didn't care many pairs. How was I supposed to know? It was the first time any of my kids had been issued a green jersey. That didn't make me feel any more competent, looking at my son who now had to wear black ones. 

One wheel of my cart squeaks. A glob of I-don't-know-what is cemented to one side. That's when I notice non-essentials in the basket like eyeliner and mints. Didn't you know that teenagers going to school need big bags of mints? Yeah, I didn't know that either. So now the fifth grader needs them, too. I join my squeaky cart wheel and squeal. 


Toward the end of last school year, I discovered that my youngest (the now fifth grader) was only eating Honey Buns for lunch at school - ALL YEAR LONG! This happened after I began writing in the mornings. I'm getting older and exhaustion is getting the best of me. I mean, the kids need me after school to be their taxi driver, snack maker, launderer, and ATM, right? Then I need to feed them dinner and help with their homework and projects. That's all if we didn't have ice hockey at night. That usually equaled doing homework in the car by cell phone flash light and eating concession stand ice rink food. Oh, yum. I found myself too tired to write late at night.

So my husband took over before-school morning duty. For the most part, he did a good job, making sure the older kids were off to junior high and high school on time. He packed a lunch for our youngest, but that little sneak would only eat the Honey Bun. Sure, can't blame the kid. But as a mom, my heart plummeted to my feet. I'd let my little guy down. And OMGosh! Can you image what the other parents must have thought of me? You do know what my youngest consumes for lunch is the most important thing to my small town. Small town drama is a staple where I'm from.  

I stare down at my now over-flowing basket of school goodies. All the to-be events, homework, projects, athletic games, practices, meetings, more supplies, lunches begin hitting me in the face. I bet two days won't pass before one of my kids forgets something at home that he/she needs at school. People scurry up and down the isle, yelling and giving orders. Some even bump my cart as they race past. One nudges me out of the way. I suddenly have the urge to hit something with a bat. 

I've already ground part of the enamel off my back teeth. There goes the rest of it. So much to look forward to.

I inhale bedlam from the air. My attempt to choke it down fails. I sneeze instead. Yes, part of that might have been on purpose so I could mutter a minor curse. But trust me, it was lost in the pandemonium surrounding me. 

"I don't care that your teacher said you need a 1 & 1/2" binder!" A woman peers up at her high school-aged son. "Is your teacher here? The freaking store is out of those. 

"Are you sure you don't need another? You can never have too many notebooks," a blonde woman gently says to a college-age girl. 

"In the grand scheme of Armageddon, black or blue ink won't matter a (expletive)," the man says.

I stop. And listen. And look at all the stimuli slamming into each other. Silent questions surface. Self-searching questions. And then I begin to laugh. Hard, so hard my stomach hurts. People look at me like I have three heads. My youngest gives me a blank stare, while my teenagers back away from my cart like I'm a rabid fox readying to pounce. It's perfect.

No, really. The whole scenario is obnoxious and relentless, yet silly and honest. Life at it's fullest of hot and cold, sweet and tangy - a perfectly messy and noisy and zany cloud of oblivion. Just like me. 

Whether writer or not, this should serve everyone: "Expect chaos, for through it focus, calm and growth shall shine."  
 photo Sheri2.png

24 comments:

  1. One of the first things I did was teach my kids how to make their own lunches. That way I knew they'd like what they took. I'd provide all the side things, and they'd get to choose.

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  2. Yay, happy engding. :) One year I ordered the supply packs through the PTA, which is a brilliant idea---just pick the grade level, pay up & pick up all the stuff in a bundle the week before school starts---but I actually missed the supply shopping experience! It's like a rite of passage.

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    1. That is a good way to look at it, a rite of passage. My oldest is now is college and it's kind of strange not having him with the others to do supply shopping.

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  3. Love the Honey Buns incident. Reminds me of my son.

    Keep up the good work you're doing.

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  4. Oh, Honey Bun Kid would be in SO MUCH TROUBLE at our house. (And I would totally be the last to know. When Daughter #1 was buying tons of snack food with her lunch account, it was my husband who caught on. I never would have thought to check her purchases because I would never have done that as a child. I was a goodie-goodie, and my kids have gotten away with things because it never occurred to me that they would do them.)

    As for the school supplies, I want to smack teachers who demand 1.5 inch binders in a specific color. And I was a teacher myself for 25 years! So I can tell you, there is NO REASON you must have a specific size/color binder except for the OCD of the teacher!!!!

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    1. OCD teacher ... that is a perfect description! We live in a small town, so when teacher A, F, M, and O all demand a certain size - and the same size - the stores run out fast. I've had to drive 20 miles before just to get a dang binder, because my kid was afraid to get in trouble. I'm thinking there are better things to be concerned with in school than this sort of stuff. LOL

      Yeah, I would have never done the Honey Bun thing, either. Shoot, I went to a Catholic elementary school. How much do you think we really got away with???

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  5. This post was great! I don't have kids, but I can understand the craziness after remembering what it was like for my mom and looking at my sister who has two boys (one 8 and one soon-to-be 7). I would need an army to help me when I have kids going to school.

    Good luck with the school year! I'm sure between all the chaos will be beautiful moments. :)

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  6. Ha! I can relate to the small town drama. Where I live, you can't go anywhere without someone knowing your name.
    That's wonderful that your husband picked up the morning duties so that you can write!

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  7. Is that what I missed by not having kids...?

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  8. Honey Buns? Any serious side effects? Probably not. Unless Mom-Angst/Guilt is a serious side effect! :-)

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  9. I gotta tell you, your son is alright with me. Haha. Honey buns for lunch EVRY DAY is my dream. Great hubby, Sheri. :-)

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  10. So true!!! All of that angst and trauma and excitement blended into one messy ball! :)
    I don't know what a Honey Bun is, but I'm betting it's not the healthiest choice he could make :)

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    1. LOL. Nope, it's like an extra-large pastry with tons of white glaze on it.

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  11. Chaos always rears its ugly head. I'm still under construction and it's chaos on a daily basis.

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  12. That kind of chaos reminds us we're alive. :)

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  13. Oh my goodness I can so relate to this. Why, why do I wait until the last minute to take the kids school supply shopping? maybe my inner writer craves all the extra drama! that armagedddon comment really made me laugh.

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  14. Oh gosh, this is perfect! I can totally relate! And then there's all the forms we have to sign, and consent to this or that, and class changes. Oy!

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    1. I wrote a piece a few years ago about all those forms. And guess what? This year, our school district has finally smartened up and computerized a ton of that info. We only had to sign 2 papers per child. WOOT!

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  15. Oh my goodness! This is yet ANOTHER reminder of why I don't have children yet!

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  16. Ooh, yeah, I wish I were still lolling on the Cape or Jersey shore... I started my teaching gig (part time) on Sept 2nd. And I taught my forst speculative fiction writing workshop yesterday. The kids seemed to really love it and so did I! It's gonna be kick a@s and it has quickly made me enthusiastic for everything fall!!! Plus I have two books launching in Sept-Oct. That helps too. Good luck with the carpooling and all that.

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  17. I'm thankful I got this out of the way a few weeks ago! Ours start back mid-August. Biggest issue is my youngest not having snacks in her lunch because the week's supply of crisps and chocolate get depleted in a couple of days. So I have to find ever more ingenious hiding places for them. Still, you've got to love them!

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    1. Haha! Oh gosh, I just laughed so hard. Yes, snacks suck! I created different baskets in our pantry: snacks for soccer, for lunches, for after school, etc... Nope. They all got depleted too quickly anyway. Can you say major fail? I give up. I hate snack shopping, too - btw.

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  18. Ahh, LOVE this post!!!! You hit it right on, Sheri! I sent my kids back to school wailing and gnashing my teeth because I was DREADING the return to school and all the CRAZINESS!! Was it just me, or was summer WAY too short this year?

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