Sunday, December 16, 2012

The word you're looking for there is "seasoned"

Today's column in the Times Free Press was prompted, as many of them are, by something I read. The New Republic took apart the growing phenomenon of older parents and came up with lots of really good reasons for older parents to be scared about being older parents.

Some of those good reason were sciencey: Higher incidence of all kinds of physical and mental troubles for the offspring of older parents. And some of those good reasons were situational: Your parents are elderly and dependent, your children are tiny and dependent, you are middle-aged and completely exhausted.

But they didn't spend enough time exploring the awesome things about being an older parent. And since I am married to a man who is the 55-year-old father of two little boys, I just went ahead and wrote the missing part of that article. Because old dads kick ass.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Arts and crafts can suck it

We got one of those letters a couple of weeks ago from the kids' school. One of those dreaded, horrible, infuriating letters that we get a few times a year that always make me scowl and curse under my breath and roll my eyes and say things like this to my husband:

"This is yours. You have to do it. I am out. OUT."

This letter invited me -- in breathless, giddy prose sprinkled with! exclamation! points! and italics -- to get SUPER CREATIVE in helping my kid design his dinosaur costume for the school play. To collaborate with other dinosaur parents! To use my imagination! Feathers! Glitter! Teeth! To get all crafty and shit like that!

In my spare time, right? That's when I will design a damn dinosaur costume -- or, even better, design a damn dinosaur costume IN COLLABORATION with other dinosaur parents? In between working my two jobs and running a household full of grubby boys and OHMYGOD trying to get a little exercise at the end of my 12-hour days?

Right. I will get right on that. In between loads of laundry and PowerPoint presentations, I will form a committee and I will draft a list and we will all drive through the suburbs visiting big box stores, buying glue and glitter and feathers and pipe cleaners and then we will all meet at my house and assemble these freaking costumes and maybe, while we're at it, we can have a theme song! I will write the lyrics! They will include bad words. Bad.

You guys. I hate this crap. (You could not tell, right? Because I am subtle. I know.) I hate crafts. I hate gluing and glittering and cutting and pasting and I especially hate it because my kids don't want to do it, either. They have zero interest. But they're in these damn plays and we have to do SOMETHING, right? We can't just send them to school in their jeans on play day and say, "Just feel like a dinosaur today, OK? Growl a lot. Show the anxiety of impending extinction in your facial expression. Love you!"

None of us wants to do this. You know what my kids really want to do? They want to read books. Do math. Science experiments. History lessons. They want to play on the playground and do SCHOOL THINGS. And, yes, I am aware that many, many people love this gluing, glittering, pipe cleaning bullshit. Those people are everywhere. For all I know, you could be one of them. I mean have you SEEN Pinterest? (I haven't. But I hear stories.)

Speaking of stories, here's a true one. Do you know how much I hate glitter? I hate glitter so much that if someone sends me a card with glitter on it, I open that card over the trash can, read it, drop it into the garbage and then wash my hands.

Look, I do not begrudge the crafty people their crafty time. To each his own, no matter how inane. I'm a total humanitarian, y'all. And I know that lots of things I really like (fashion, art, graphic design) have their roots in grade school craft projects. We all have to start somewhere. I get it. There is value there. (In a kind of roundabout way that does not mean making a damn dinosaur costume means you are an undiscovered Alexander McQueen.)

But I want a check box at the beginning of the school year: Crafter / Non-crafter. In exchange, if you need help with a newsletter or some editing, people, I am there for you. Do you need proofreading? YES you DO! I have seen your emails! I can help you. But I demand crafting immunity. I want special dispensation. I DO NOT CRAFT.

So. Damn dinosaur play. My husband found Ben a green hoody and a green stuffed snake. And he put him in the green hoody and pinned the green stuffed snake to the back of his pants for a tail and said "Hey, you're a dinosaur." And Ben said "OK, thanks," and I said "I love you Jim Fortune," and then we were done.

And maybe you are thinking, Mary, in the time it took you to write this blog post, you could have driven to Hobby Lobby and bought a bunch of dinosaur stuff and turned Ben into something out of Jurassic Park.

To you, dear reader, I say: Shut up. Who asked you, anyway? I write. I DO NOT CRAFT. And get that damn glitter away from me.

Someone bring this woman a beer.