Friday, August 17, 2012

Get Back, (Dark) Temptation

Do you know what happens when your boy child hits about 11 1/2?  He starts to SMELL.  Kids going through puberty are little body odor FACTORIES.  They can be squeaky clean, but their armpits?


I was in the car with him this week, and caught a whiff and remembered the most important thing on my to-do list:  let him pick out some deodorant.  So, today, we went on a little deodorant-buying expedition.

Back when I was a kid and lived with my dad and my brothers, there was only ONE deodorant in our house.  Right Guard.  Spray.  I honestly didn't need to know anything about the ozone to know that this stuff was killing SOMETHING.

Since then, I hadn't looked at men's deodorant.  Ever.  Charley buys his own, so it's not something I have ever considered.  Until today.  And I have to congratulate you, you manly men, because you are sort of eclipsing us girls in the sheer number of deodorant selections on the market.  There were so many, it took us quite a while to choose.  So we did what we do when we go hat shopping for JH, and here I shall helpfully give you the guidelines of shopping for your pre-teen/teen.  This should work equally well for girls.
You're welcome.

Rules for shopping for deodorant (or whatEVer) with your preteen:

1) try as many as possible in the first ten minutes.
2) narrow it down to three
3) add two more (or trade two out, it's your decision, really)
4) be completely unable to choose between two, and you'll run out of time and have to choose two anyway.

This should only take between 1 -3 hours.

As I said, I was impressed by the sheer number of choices, and the creativity in naming men's deodorant/anti-perspirant.

We tried:  Swagger, Sport, Pure Sport, Clean, Extra Clean, Fresh, Extra Fresh, Playmaker, Game Day, Smooth Blast, Phoenix, Danger Zone, After Hours, Fiji, Danali, Matterhorn, Excite, Anarchy, Twist, Kilo, Clix, Essence....The list is long and (hat tip to the marketing department) mighty creative.

We finally settled for Degree Sport and Axe Essence.  Not TOO manly, but it works to tackle those crazy hormonal preteen armpits.

I refused to consider Dark Temptation.  He's 11, and he's my baby, and dammit, I'm paying for it, so I still have a say.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

My Young Man

I had a wild hair this summer and decided that I wanted to read some plays.  After making my living as an actor for nearly fifteen years, then taking a break for the last twelve, some part of me was waking up and wanting to stretch.

On a whim, I sent out letters to a couple commercial agencies in town, and got called in for an audition last week.  I had to do a monologue, which to me as an actor when I was doing them all the time was the most nerve wracking, un-natural thing on earth; but now I'm a menopausal wreck who can barely remember my own name on a good day how was I going to memorize a monologue?

As it turns out, there is a lot of muscle memory to this stuff.  I worked and worked and muttered to myself for over a week.  I did my monologue for Charley, I rehearsed it while walking the dog, I did it while doing dishes.  I had the audition, it went okay, but my nerves!!! Oh my gosh.  Even though I feel a thousand times more comfortable in my skin than I did when I was working, I could still feel my heart racing, but I managed to get a callback.

It would be two days later, and with an additional two people in the (very tiny) room.  In the meantime - we had friends in town, we had doctors appointments, I could no longer just focus on "the work".  Still, I treated it like an experiment.  Just flexing old muscles, more for myself than anyone else.

Yesterday, as I was cleaning and muttering, JH asked why I was talking to myself.  When I explained what I was doing, he asked if he could hear my monologue.  I chose this monologue because the woman is crazy, and funny, and I thought it would be a chance to show them something close to myself.  Although I have never been institutionalized, menopause has given me new insight into irrational thinking!

Here is where the whole perspective shift happened for me.  My boy, my amazing kid, gave me his full attention.  He paid me compliments.  He gave me real and valuable feedback.  He was sort of wowed by my (rusty) ability to become someone else.  He helped to ground me, he helped me run lines, he helped calm my nerves on the way to the audition.  We had an appointment right after, so I brought him with me, and he waited in the lobby and played with the agent's 16 month old son.  He made me so, so proud.

I was a wreck.  I don't think I did very well.  I couldn't stop my heart from racing.  I had difficulty staying on track, but I finished the monologue well, I think.  The scene I read with one of the people in the room went better, though, but still, I doubt I'll be going back there any time soon.  But it didn't matter.  When I came down from the audition, saw my sweet young man sitting on the floor playing with the wee one, and later in the car, when he just reached out and touched my leg and said "I'm so proud of you, Mom.  I know you were nervous, but you did your best.  I'm so proud..."  I felt like nothing else mattered.  There was no beating myself up, no self-defeating talk, which had been my constant companion back in the day.

Now, there was only this:  No matter what external forces bring, whether failure or triumph, I am the mother to an amazing human being.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Rough Day Ahead?

So, today should be fun.  C is getting his first colonoscopy tomorrow, which for the uninitiated (those of you under 50), means today he is not allowed to eat anything but jello and popsicles, which is a perfect diet if you're 5, but not so great if you are a grown man; and he has to drink an entire bottle of Miralax over the course of three hours and spend the rest of the day in his bathroom.  He asked his doctor if he could work today, and his doctor said "Do you work on a toilet?  Because unless you work on a toilet, then no, you can't go to work."  So there's that.

If that weren't enough fun for one day, I dished out a consequence for the boy yesterday that entails no xbox and no cell phone today.  Seriously, I'm thinking of locking myself in the bathroom with C.  Or running away to join a chain gang.  At least they sing.

What happened was this - He had a friend over, and they were going to ride scooters to a neighborhood park, and I had to run to the vet to get Emma the wonderdog her special dogfood, and was only going to be gone for fifteen minutes.  He had instructions to be home in an hour.  And he had his phone with him in case of an emergency.  As I'm driving to the vet, I pass the park and see two guys from our 'hood playing basketball.  These guys are in their twenties and they are sketchy.  Like, drugdealing, thieving, but no one has caught them yet sketchy.  As I pull over to call JH, Charley texts me to ask me to pick up prescriptions at the drugstore, which I know will add a bit of time to my run, but no problem, I'll just call the boy and tell him to wait to go to the park until I get home.  I also knew that the other boys mom was home and close by, so I wasn't freaked out.  Yet.

I dialed and got the machine and I leave a message.  He's probably just on his scooter and didn't hear the phone.  I get to the vet, I pick up Em's food, and call again.  No answer.  I head to the drugstore, which is just a few blocks away.  I text.  Nothing.  By this time, I'm standing in line to get the prescription, but my hands are starting to sweat, and I'm envisioning the boys tied to a basketball hoop, robbed of their possessions and crying for their moms.  Or he's lost his phone.  Or left it in the backyard.  I call three more times.  Shoot.  It's in the backyard, and the hoodlums heard the phone and stole it AFTER they tied the boys to the basketball hoop.  The pharmacist hands me the prescriptions and I pay and race out the door, my heart in my throat.

As I pull up the hill, I see the boys walking up the hill with scooters, laughing.

"Where's your phone?!!!"

"Hey mom!  Why'd you call me so much?"

He heard the phone.  He saw my text.  He just didn't bother to listen to my messages OR pick up the phone.

Really, he got off light.  My first instinct was no phone for a week.  But realizing that the phone alone wouldn't do it, I had to take the xbox hostage too.  And after I calmed down and we talked about WHY it's important for him to answer his phone, that I'm not just calling to say "hi"- five phone calls in a row MIGHT be important, I knew he got it, he was remorseful AND wouldn't do it again, I still had to give some sort of consequence.  But a week without xbox is going to be a bigger punishment for me than him.  One day.  Plus he gets to do some work for me today.

I do believe there will be wine for Mom tonight.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Like Old Friends....

I stopped blogging.  I felt like too much of myself was somewhere else, instead of home, like some crazy creature from Harry Potter, my thoughts were characters, floating in the ether, instead of in my head helping me to find whatever it is JH needed me to find, or come up with an idea for dinner, or remember to make appointments with specialists for JH... or one of a thousand other things that I could NO LONGER REMEMBER TO DO WITHOUT WRITING IT DOWN.

But last night, C showed me this this book review about this book and it got me to thinking:  while using my limited menopausal brainpower to find JH's underwear/socks/asthmainhaler/phone/sunglasses/librarybook in his room, I realized that I was a) not doing my son any favors, and b) I missed writing.  I missed recording the stories.  So - new rule.  If it's in your room and you can't find it, that's tough luck.  Keep track.  Put it away.  You're on your own.  That decision freed up 2 mb of brainspace, and I oughta be able to blog a little, right?!

Much has happened since I was last here.  JH played in Little League for the first time; he graduated from elementary school and will be going to a different school in the fall; he didn't get in to the Arts School, which was a devastating head smacker, but we are all moving on to the best of our ability (I now only cry myself to sleep three nights out of the week instead of all 7); JH's leg is getting harder to lug around, he gets tired easily, he's growing like a weed; and to top it all off, he's going through puberty, which if you think it's easier for boys than girls, you have a nuther think comin' (as my dear departed daddy used to say!)  JH has been using wheels more and more - he has two skateboards now, he rides his bike, and he used a wheelchair for the first time at the Art Institute of Chicago, which he thought was the best thing ever because he could actually enjoy the art instead of trying not to make a fuss about his leg hurting.  Recently we were in the car and he was absent-mindedly rubbing his leg, and I asked if it was hurting, and without any attitude at all he said "it always hurts".  I knew that it might feel heavy.  I knew that it bothered him sometimes.  I knew it made him run a bit slower than the rest.  But it killed me that, as his mom, I was not aware that it hurt all the time.  Always.

I missed having a place to put these things down in writing.  And while I don't feel a need to shape the story, I do feel a need to share it, again.  And like old friends, even though life has moved me down the river a bit, it seems like no time has passed since last we met.