Monday, July 22, 2013

The Story of Us


Months and months ago, I bought my daughter tickets to see Taylor Swift in concert at Lincoln Financial Field. Sure, I knew it was summer and it would be hot, but how hot could it possibly be? Well, as it turns out, really, really f'ing hot. It will be 106 degrees in the lower levels tonight, but we are up in the nosebleed section, there hasn't been a breeze in a week, and I bet we are sitting in direct sunlight. So, let's be generous and add another 5 degrees, bringing the grand total up to 111. Degrees. Fahrenheit.

The last time I went to a concert in this type of heat, I was living in North Carolina and strutted around in a bikini top and short shorts. Since I don't want to cause hysterical blindness in the 10 and under set, I'll be attending the concert fully dressed this evening. While a muumuu would be ideal (and really, a perfect representation of the fat cow I have become), I do believe I will stick to a fitted maxi dress. While a mini would involve less material and hence less heat, the maxi has the benefit of putting some material between my legs and the seats, keeping me from sticking to them and losing bits of skin.

What will my daughter wear to this auspicious event - her first ever concert? Well, currently, she is moping around the house in a nightgown because she doesn't know she is going. I knew that if I told her eight months ago, I would have spent all that time punishing her by taking the concert away, giving it back, taking it away again, etc. I didn't want the drama. I did screw with her head this morning and allowed her to try (and fail) to win tickets from the local radio station, but that was just for my own amusement. She cried, of course, which made me feel bad, but I'll assuage my guilt with an overpriced concert tee later.

Later, I'll braid her hair and talk her into a pretty dress with the excuse that Daddy is going to take us out to dinner. When he gets home, we'll tell her the truth. I expect the sonic scream to ricochet around town and blow out a few windows. My husband will be our chauffer tonight, mostly because I will not be in any position to operate heavy machinery by the time the concert ends. He doesn't even think I'll make it through the concert without a visit to the medical tent, but I know I will. I won't let my daughter miss even a single note of Taylor Swift, even if the goats are bleating. However, I will make sure that she has emergency info on her and I'll have lots of cash on hand to buy the astronomically-priced bottles of water.

Post Show

As promised, the sonic scream did indeed rattle the windows. She also cried tears of joy, which was a nice touch. Then she immediately rushed us to the car, putting us at the stadium, walking to our nosebleed-section seats, a full three hours before Taylor Swift was scheduled to go onstage. This, as it turned out, was auspicious because the benevolent concert gods decided to smile upon us. As I was wondering if we were high enough that we were going to need oxygen masks, I noticed a small crowd. Turns out, some promoters had just finished handing some out seat upgrade, and when my little one burst into tears at the thought of missing out at actually good seats where you could actually see Taylor Swift was a person, not just a dancing red ant, the guy melted and slapped a spare pair of wristbands on us. Off we went to floor seats, just 14 rows back from the pit and blessedly, blessedly, in the shade. Filled with happiness at our fantastic luck, we spent the next few hours making fun of the opening acts, chatting with all our neighbors (who had also been gifted with the upgrades, so we were a pretty happy bunch), sharing glow bracelets, and hunting down the Italian Ice guy.

When Taylor Swift finally did take the stage, the first thing I noticed what that the poor child cannot dance. You don't notice it so much when you are only watching her sing one song in a video or at an awards show, but when she has an entire concert, you realize pretty quickly that she cannot move rhythmically at all. I would love to bust her on it, but since I can't play piano, banjo, or the guitar, AND I can't dance, write songs, and earn bajillions of dollars making fun of ex-boyfriends publicly, I'll just let it slide. They actually covered it really well with lots of background dancers and just moving her around the stage a lot, but she isn't a dancer.

I'm not going to lie. I sang along. I sang along at the top of my lungs and didn't give a shit who saw me. I felt like I did when I went to Disney - I could be a snarky bitch about it, or I could simply give in and enjoy the show. Sure, I sent a few snarky Tweets (which were picked up by a media outlet), but only during the first few songs. And honestly, they were well-deserved. I do miss lighters, especially when we were all holding up iPhones with the flashlight app turned on. I did worry that with the waving of a big red flag was going to encourage French revolutionaries to storm the stage and start to sing. And I did think the opening act was a moron for encouraging the crowd to do a call and response to "Hell, yeah" since most would get in trouble for saying "H-E-double hockey sticks."

Did I pass out? No, I did not. I did at one point have an ocean of salty sweat pouring down my body that you could have body surfed on, and I did guzzles several $4 bottles of water, but I stayed upright. I grabbed a seat during a section of slow songs since I didn't have to worry that my daughter was going to topple off hers, but overall, I was fine. Tacky to the touch, but fine. When the concert ended, we popped into the battlefield of the parking lots only long enough to grab a fallen-off-the-truck concert shirt, then hit a side street where my husband was waiting with the A/C set to full-blast and two icy-cold bottles of water. While I never expected in my life to order a Happy Meal (while sober and for an actual child) at quarter to midnight, I brushed aside that parenting fail and let her happily munch away while she told her father all about the concert. In the end, after a cool shower, I fell into bed a very happy parent. I was able to enjoy a great night with my daughter, one we will both never forget, and I managed to do it without falling over. One day, she'll look back at this first concert and be embarrassed by it, as we all are by our pre-teen obsessions. But for now, I am the coolest mom on the planet.

I can live with that.

Friday, July 5, 2013

To Secure Peace

A few years ago, I complained on Facebook that parenting was hard. A good friend of mine who has been known to be rather harsh in her assessment of things, wrote back, "What made you think it would be anything else?" This friend, I'll call her Rorey, has two Stepford children, a Stepford husband, and has never been caught raising her voice or having a dirty house. It's enough to drive you bonkers, it really is. However, she is my trusted advisor in terms of parenting because she really, truly believes that a good mother doesn't choose her battles, she wins them all.

I thought about her today when, seven hours after I told the kids to do something, it still wasn't done, so we still hadn't left for the pool. Seven hours! I didn't ask them to perform surgery, to learn to speak fluent Russian, or to organize all the Lego pieces by size, shape, and color. Nope, I asked them to put their toys and their laundry away. One basket of laundry each and about a dozen toys.

Now, I'll be honest. I spent 14 hours in the sun yesterday before I fell into bed a hot, sweaty, stinky, exhausted mess of a human being. I was damp and sweaty pretty much from sunup to sundown, so I'm perfectly happy staying indoors wearing dry bottoms. With a full heat advisory in effect, and temps that feel like 100+ and counting, I am medically restricted from being out-of-doors for long periods of time anyway. Orthostatic intolerance and extreme heat are a potentially catastrophic cocktail and require me to be very, very careful of their balance. So do I mind missing a day at the pool, even after two weeks of rain, knowing that summer is still early, the weekend hasn't even hit yet, and I will have lots of time to bake, broil, and fry? Nope.

But that isn't the point. The point is that even if I did mind, I would have been trapped indoors by my children anyway. I gave them two tasks, they had to complete them before we left the house, therefore, we were not leaving the house before those tasks were done. Sure, I could pick up the toys in ten minutes, have put all the clothes away in another twenty (and they would be far neater in their drawers than they are now), but that would have defeated the whole point of asking them to do it. She's eight, he's almost six - both are perfectly able to perform those tasks. In fact, I've seen him practically sing as he rushed to put way four times the amount of crap at preschool, and Lord knows she has a reputation at school for knowing when everything has to be said, done, and put, so she totally had this under control.

So yes, parenting is hard. It is hard to watch the disappointment and hurt in my daughter's eyes when she realizes she was wasn't invited to birthday party and everyone else was. It is hard to say no, you can't get more library books until you pay the current fines, knowing how much she loves to read and how hard she works for those dollars. It is hard to watch my son struggle with all those little steps that make him a "big boy" like taking off the training wheels, learning to read, learning to swim. There have been days I wanted to just throw my hands and say screw it, but I can't. Instead I have to muddle through this dream/nightmare of parenting the best I can so that they don't grow up to write the modern equivalent of Mommy Dearest.  

I don't necessarily think I can win all of the battles. There are just too many, coming from too many directions, on too many different levels. Tempers may fray, tears may be shed, but the I will continue to fight the good fight. For while I may occasionally lose a battle, I will not lose this war. I will raise good kids who do what they are told, are good friends and good neighbors, and who are smart and well-spoken so that one day, they will be able to fight their own battles.

Until that time - eight hours and counting.