Red Ribbon Week: AKA – Some Sort of Fresh Hell

Red Ribbon Week, for those of you not in ‘the know’, is a week in October designed and dedicated to encourage kids not to use alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. During this event every day of this week has a cutesy little catch phrase partnered with a dress-up challenge. For example, one day might be “Say Peace Out to Drugs!” and students would be encouraged to dress in peace symbols and tie dye. It’s a creative way to highlight a serious topic. When my kids were in elementary school – they participated because, Hello! When you’re a kid, you like to dress up. So I was that mom – I got the crazy socks, the camo shirt, the neon hair dye, the mismatched outfits, the detective costume, the team jersey, the Hawaiian lei. It was nothing short of an endless errand running madness sandwiched between all my other mom duties – but I did it because you do this sh*t for your kids! This has been going on for SEVEN YEARS.

Even though my kids are now in Intermediate and Middle school, I felt like I still had to at least ask them if they wanted to participate. Secretly, the idea of putting together outfits AGAIN made me want to lay down on a Kindermat and suck my thumb. I pretty much knew how my 8th grader would respond when I threw it out to her. I received the classic eye roll at the mere suggestion of doing something ‘participate-y’ coupled with the exact phrase “Are you freaking kidding me?”

Her loathing of all things that come out of my mouth is at least consistent so I took comfort in that. Once the familiar sting of her biting glare and judgement passed I reveled in the idea that I had actually won in this scenario. I sure as hell though wasn’t going to let her know about my internal celebration. One kid down, one to go. My youngest, who is in 6th grade, is on that fence. You know – the one where she kinda wants to participate because she is still 11, but also doesn’t want to put herself out there unless all her other friends are doing the same thing.

Cautiously I went over her school’s themes without making much of a big to-do. I stressed that if she wanted to dress up I needed a decent amount of time to achieve said costume goals. I’m a planner. Last minute changes are not in my wheelhouse. As if the heavens parted with a glorious beaming ray shining down upon her angelic face, she firmly and confidently voiced that she had no interest in participating. My inner dialog had shouts of Hallelujah! Praise Jesus! Amen!!! For the first time in I don’t know how many years – YES I DO – SEVEN, I was off the hook for Red Ribbon Week. I let the rare feeling of utter satisfcation and true happiness wash all over me. As I left the room so they wouldn’t see the obnoxious grin on my face, I high fived the air in victory.

Monday morning came and I basked in non-stressed delight as I entertained my second cup of coffee. Just for fun though, I poked my youngest a little because I already knew the answer – I just wanted to hear it out loud again.

Monday: Wear Red
“Honey, are you sure you don’t want to wear red today? You could at least throw on that red sweater .” Her response: Nope.

Tuesday: Wear Superhero Gear
“Sweetie, are you sure you don’t want to borrow my Wonder Woman cape that I used to wear when I was teaching? Just throw it over your outfit?” Her response: Nope.

Wednesday: Wear a Hat
“Butter bean, want to wear my navy ball cap that goes with the sweatshirt you have on? You won’t even have to worry about doing your hair today! Bonus!” Her response: Nope.

So there you go. Asked and answered. I offered so it made me look like I was a devoted mom but now I was bored with the game. Moving on to life as we know it.

Enter Thursday morning.

I looked at the clock and gave the girls their standard “We are leaving in 20 minutes!” warning. Down the stairs came my 6th grader, still in pajamas, bundled in her blanket. As I tried to wrap my mind around what I was seeing whilst pushing down the obscenities that were rising to the top of my throat – because how the hell were we going to get out the door in 20 when she’s still in jammy-jams… she busted out with this bullsh*t question:

“Do we have anything I can wear for today’s theme? It’s the 70s.”

I. Can’t. Speak.

Y’all. Please. I love this child – but I was about to go carnival freak crazy on her – with no apologies. We’d discussed this. Decisions were made. Plus, she couldn’t change direction on the easy days? Red? Superhero? A freaking hat? I could have rallied last minute with minimal stress on any of those. But the 70s?? Are you kidding me? The conversation that occurred next is not really anything I want to put into writing but once I had said what needed to be said (interpret that how you will), I went to business. Fast. I started pulling from everyone’s closet. Bottom line – it’s what moms do. Especially when your 11 year old is teetering between being a kid and not being a kid – you hold on to those ‘being a kid’ moments tighter than a pair of jeans during a food binge with the intent of ‘starting tomorrow.’

So here, I give you, how I MOTHER FREAKIN’ NAILED a Red Ribbon challenge in literally 14 minutes. I get that it’s not silly and costume-y. Nay, it’s BETTER. To use a 70s phrase made popular by its star character JJ Evans from Good Times – it was “Dy-No-Mite!” This outfit was legit historically authentic AND seriously super cute! She got to dress up (be a kid) but wear a real outfit (not be a kid). This #parentwin made me happier than seeing my kids walk for the first time, mastering potty training, hearing “I love you mommy”. It made me prouder than when I was elected Senior Class President, received my Masters degree from Columbia University, won Teacher of the Year.

No this…THIS, very well might be my biggest accomplishment in like, the history of ever.

And that, my friends, is how you throw down a last minute RRW challenge.

BOOM!

But if this sh*t happens again next year, I’m seriously going to ‘peace out’. It’s all you, kids! Tell your story walking! I’m outta here! BYEEEEEEEEE! (Narrator: we all know she won’t do or say any of those things. She’ll be at Target when it opens.)

As a final RRW bonus, whenever you have a few minutes – doesn’t have to be now, I leave you with one of my favorite clips from Melissa Radke vocalizing her thoughts on the whole sitchadoodle. Preach Gir! Preach!

Sorry. Not My Kind of Bar!

There are many teaching milestones that we hit as parents. Potty training. Brushing teeth. Riding a bike. Fixing mommy a martini. You teach your littles how to do basic things so that when they leave your nest they can fly. Right?

This past weekend I realized that I had failed one of my baby birds in the oddest, unknowing way possible.

Read More

Don’t Even Get Me Started

This is a ‘common house spider.’ It’s COMMON. In HOUSES! Kill me. Kill me now.

There are few things in life that truly terrify me. An empty wine fridge? Totally. Trying on bathing suits? 100%. My reflection when someone FaceTimes me? For sure. But nothing puts me in a rocking fetal position with thumb in mouth faster than spiders. With Halloween season upon us, I see them everywhere. Jewelry. Friends’ front porches. Pottery Barn. EVERYWHERE. I understand they aren’t real spiders – just decorations. Y’all, please. My brain knows that – but it can’t process it effectively enough. My own husband even participates in this mean spirited celebration of what haunts my deepest nightmares by putting a giant spider on our banister (as seen below). I KNOW it’s there and every morning on my way to get coffee it startles me…and makes me question the meaning of unconditional love.

Read More

F’ing Parent Fails

I’ve been watching my precious 2-year-old niece on and off for a few weeks. This experience has taught me that my language has gotten a little salty over the years. Thankfully, I’ve caught myself from saying anything TOO horrible, but I can’t actually promise that I’m not sending her home with a strong use of the word “Crap.” At least it’s not “Dammit!” So there’s that?

The whole concept of little kids with potty mouths – the direct result of hearing their parents spew obscenities – reminded me of my own children when they were young. A few classics significantly stand out – although let’s be real clear, there are probably way more. I have either just forgotten them, or more likely, blocked them out. 

Read More

Insanity: Denim Edition

Let me catch you up to speed by explaining my picture above:

Pile #1: Jeans that legit don’t fit anymore (17 pairs)
Pile #2: Jeans that fit, but hurt (2 pairs)
Pile #3: Jeans that fit and don’t hurt (1 pair – as in uno, lone, single, solo, solitary)
Pile #4: Jeans that have never fit and I’ve never worn – tags on, but bought anyway because they were super cute and were going to provide me with motivation to work out more and/or eat less (2 pairs).

THANK GOD FOR PILE #3. 🙏

Read More

You Are Not Having a Bad Day

Starbucks is out of strawberries for your Pink Drink?
You’re not having a bad day.

Stuck behind that freakishly slow cyclist on the one lane road? (Looking at you Continental!)
You’re not having a bad day.

Got that umpteenth rejection letter on a book you thought was your best work?
You’re not having a bad day.

Read More

Hugs by Proxy

Fleeting Hugs

When I picked my girls up from camp this summer I got two types of hugs:

From the 11 year old The Running Hug: a huge smile spread across her face when she saw me and then she sprinted towards me with a full on embrace that easily lasted 30 seconds. That was a hug.

From the 14 year oldThe Stiff Back Half Hug: somewhat of a semi smile emerged before she could force it back down while one arm kind of made its way awkwardly around part of my back coupled with the greeting “Hey Amy”. Was that a hug? Was it? At least it wasn’t The Heisman Hug. That’ll rip a mom’s heart out! Wait…Did she just call me Amy in public?

Sadly, I know that my ‘authentic’ hugging days with my girls are fleeting. I also know, however, they’ll come back to me full fledged when they have kids of their own … and those kids start acting – dare I say – like they do?
Cliché,  but … I. Can’t. Wait! (Insert evil laugh!)

But this did get me to thinking…

Read More