In Which I Consider Disowning Her

I've given up. I've relinquished control. I've stopped fighting it.

My kid likes lame music.

While I would prefer that she immerse herself in the superiority that is modern rock, she is a pop girl. All. the. way. The mere thought of her grooving to the latest manufactured pop machine makes my skin crawl, but I've decided to embrace the horror and roll with it. As a bonus, I don't have to worry as much about the language that might spew from my car speakers. I still have to worry because some artists SUCK (I'm talking to you, Black-Eyed Peas), but overall, the word choices are a bit safer.

As we bumped and bounced down a gravel road on our way home tonight, I had a pop radio station playing in the background. Alexis sang along to a Taylor Swift song (which, I'm sorry, but PUKE), and then went quiet when a Britney Spears song came on. I glanced in the rear view mirror as we passed near a street light, and saw that she was mesmerized into silence. As Brit belted out a few more choruses, Alexis began to dance. Then she asked, "Who is singing, momma?"

"Britney Spears," I replied. I would like bonus points for not adding, "but I wouldn't really call that 'singing.'"

"I like Britney Spears," she said.

Shoot me now. Please.


She's Really Good at Faking Sick. Or Something.

As I sat at my desk furiously typing data into the LMS, my phone rang. I glanced at the caller ID and let out a groan. There are many numbers I'd rather not see, and real high on that list is the one for daycare. They never call to tell me how well-behaved my kid is. Rather, it's always about a fever or puke or something equally delightful.

Puke it was. Delightful!

I begrudgingly drove over to daycare to pick up The Puker. Apparently she didn't have a fever, but she had earned a Get Out of Jail Free pass by projectile vomiting all over the preschool room. My inability to remember to send extra clothes to school stood proudly on display as The Puker was forced to don horribly mismatched gear and no shoes.

I think the bad outfit was to blame for what happened on the way home. If I had been dressed in pink heart-covered leggings and a ridiculously too small Hello Kitty sundress, I would have puked all over it, too.

It's too bad Alexis was in the car when she decided her outfit was vomit-worthy.

At any given point in time, there is enough food in my car to concoct dinner for four. If only I could find a recipe that calls for stale popcorn, crunchy fruit snacks, withered Lima beans, dried up blueberries, and dog hair, we would be all set for a gourmet feast. (It's my own fault. I'm the one who lets the kid eat in my car. However, Alexis gets at least 2% of the blame. If she didn't eat soooo freeeeaking slooooooowly, I wouldn't have to let her eat in the car once in a while.)

I don't think I have to tell you that puked up Strawberry Shredded Wheat doesn't really do much for the Crumb Casserole I had going on in my car. I quickly rolled down the windows so I wouldn't gag. Meanwhile, Alexis sat in the back complaining that she was dirty and needed napkins. I am an awesome parent when puke is involved, so I handed her a napkin and wished her luck. I just don't get why she doesn't enjoy sitting in a puddle of her own puke. I REALLY don't get why she thought I should stick my hands in that goop.

As we pulled into the driveway, it was pretty obvious that whatever had made the kid sick was splattered all over the car. She was feeling mighty fine, even as I sat gagging while trying to find a clean spot on her seat belt release. Once her clothes were changed, she ran off to torture a dog or two and left me to clean up the Puke Casserole that had been converted to Puke Stew. It took a hose, four towels, and every ounce of willpower I had to muddle through the disaster zone.

Awwww, this parenting thing is just *so* glamorous.


I Still Have Her.

Her name was Violet. I hated her.


I didn't know it at the time, but it was the last Christmas that would live up to my expectations for the holiday. No one knew that the glue of the family, the grandmother that bound everyone together, was soon to be diagnosed with bone cancer. No one knew that within months she would be in a assisted living home, and not long after she would pass away.

I was in first grade. I really had no understanding of what was to come.

All I knew was that Christmas Eve was supposed to be spent at my Aunt Susan's house. It was supposed to be spent with my mom's family--her parents, her brother, her sister, and all of the cousins. It was supposed to be spent in a little family room, gathered around a giant live Christmas tree adorned with handmade ornaments and a rainbow of lights. My cousin Sheryl was supposed to sit under the tree, read the tags on the gifts, and hand them out, one-by-one. We were supposed to pause and watch as the gift recipient opened the carefully wrapped treasure, all taking turns as to relish each gift for as long as possible.

When it came to be my turn, Sheryl read my name then paused, a confused look on her face. "It says it's from Mary," she reported. I remember her words exactly. They are forever etched into my memory.

Heads turned to look at my mom, who instantly realized her error. It was one of Those Years. The Bad Years. The years when Christmas wouldn't have happened if not for the kindness of strangers. The gift had been donated to the Salvation Army, and I was the lucky beneficiary. My mom had intended to change out the name tag. She had intended to cover up the fact that there wasn't money for gifts that year. She had meant to avoid that embarrassing moment.

She just missed one little piece of paper. One gift tag.

Silence enveloped the room as each person individually came to their own conclusions as to why a gift from a stranger had wound up under the tree. At last, the awkward moment was interrupted by my grandma, "Go ahead and open it, honey."

I looked around the room, my eyes taking in the harsh looks of judgment and disapproval. Through tears I tore off the paper and pulled out a brown-haired doll dressed in a purple floral shirt. The tag that hung from her arm said her name was Violet. "It's a doll," I said, my heart silently pleading for Sheryl to read another name.


As soon as we got home, I ran to the bathroom. I grabbed a pair of scissors out of the medicine cabinet and hacked at Violet's hair. I dug around until I found a black marker and I took it to her face, violently changing her appearance. I wanted her to look as ugly as I felt at that moment. I wanted her to pay for my embarrassment. It was her fault that people knew we were poor.


Weeks later, I walked past the spot where I had hidden the defaced doll. Pausing, I considered the fact that it was the only toy I had gotten for Christmas that year. I pondered the fact that it was my birthday and that the day was nearly over. I thought about the birthday presents that weren't, that would never be. I pulled Violet out from behind the dryer, took her into the bathroom, and did what I could to clean to her up.

Her name was Violet. I hated her, but she was better than nothing.


If every person who reads this pitches in $1.00, together we can smash that $1000 goal and provide a whole lot of Christmas Crazy to a whole lot of kids. I was one of those kids who benefited from programs like Toys for Tots, and I can tell you it makes a difference. Every little bit makes a difference.