Friday, August 31, 2012

Out being awkward!

Out being awkward, back soon!

Readers, we are heading on our first ever family vacation. First, we are heading to see some family, and then we are heading to northern Michigan to stay at a lodge. An honest to goodness lodge! It is called the Great Wolf Lodge. Now, all I keep thinking about is this Nancy Drew game called the The White Wolf of Icicle Creek where Nancy goes to Canada and does all manner of daring-do while rescuing a wolf and thwarting a would-be bomber. I hope it doesn't come to that, but if it does, Super Preschooler and I have been practicing and we are ready. You know, if the daring-do comes in the form of decoding notes, eavesdropping, and solving mysterious puzzles that just happen to fall out of the bad guy's pocket.

This lodge also has a water park in it, which leaves me with a whole host of questions about it's true lodgeness. But whatever. The Supers love water and should really enjoy it, but Awkward Dad, who is basically a big kid anyway, is truly the fan here. And since the whole reason for this trip is to celebrate that the earth has been blessed with Awkward Dad's presence for 35 years, why not do something fun, big, and slightly nonsensical? That truly is the Awkward Dad way.

We'll be back in a week, no doubt laden with tons of awkward antidotes to amuse you.

Until then, stay awkward, dear Readers!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Mall Perfect Mom

Another day, another battle with Perfect Mom. She is totally our arch-nemesis; step aside Potty Training and Whine Monster.

Dear Mall Perfect Mom that I ran into in front of Hollister at 3:56 pm today-

First of all, I want to thank you for your good intentions. If my son had indeed been missing, I would have appreciated your air-raid-siren call of "Whose Child is this? Is this anyone's child? Missing Child!" Your quick thinking and passionate response are good things that speak well of your character, please don't lose that. I value that you got right down to Super Toddler's level and queried him about the whereabouts of his mother. I doubt that he appreciated you grabbing his arm and shaking him slightly when he didn't answer you, but I suppose I could see that your approach there might be necessary if the child were in shock or, you know, actually missing.

I assume that he failed to answer you because he thought it was pretty obvious that his mom was about 6 feet away from him, dealing with a sticking stroller wheel. I now understand that you made your children hold your hand at all times in public and I am glad that method worked for you. As you can plainly see, I have 3 children and am not an octopus, so I don't think it would work for me. I know that the mall is crowded. I am aware that kidnappings happen in an instant. And I do not need a link to a website that sells child-leashes. I am sure those work for some people, but Super Baby isn't yet walking, Super Toddler would be tangled in it within 4 minutes, and Super Preschooler already has enough material for several years of therapy. If you want to write down the web address for me, that is fine, but I am fairly sure I will lose it the minute you turn around.

It should be pretty obvious, what with the stroller, messy ponytail, and 3 foot bags under my eyes, but I am a MOM. I have the peripheral vision of James Bond. I've got that weird slowmo assessing of the surroundings thingie that hot Sherlock Holmes has. And if that fails, I have an internal radar that sets off the second one of them gets too far away from me. Plus, I am more than capable of calling for security myself. If you wanna help me seek them at that point, I would be more than happy for your help.

I know that my freckles are deceiving, but I am not the babysitter. They are mine. I have safely guided these 3 children from infancy to a burgeoning toddlerhood and beyond. I know I haven't been at it too long, but I think I am doing OK. I am not your teenaged daughter sneaking out of the house in a halter top and I am not your son who is failing out of chemistry. I am actually none of your business. I do not need a lecture in the middle of the mall. I do not need to be shamed because you thought my child was missing. I do not need advice. If you want to hold the baby for a second so I can fix this stroller wheel, that would be great, but anything else is really not necessary or wanted.

So, thank you for your good intentions, but I (and my non-missing children) are doing just fine. We are not perfect, but if you are the main representative, I am pretty sure that is a group I don't want to be a part of anyway.

Awkward Mom

P.S. By the way, I think it is kinda creepy that you know so much about kidnapping.

Sass thrusters on full power today, eh, Awkward Mom? Join us next time, Readers! The Mall is a den of villains and this Hollister encounter wasn't the most awkward thing that happened today. No. Not by a long shot.

Who wouldn't want to kidnap these cuties?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Late Summer

It's summertime and the livin' is frantic.

So, it is late August. Typically, I don't even know what month it is, but I do know that my mother's birthday is tomorrow, so it must be late August. She complains about how hot her birthday is every single year and, sometimes, she just gives up and celebrates an unbirthday in October instead. (I don't know, it sounds like a good idea to me.) Anyway, it is late August and this time of year two opposing forces battle for supremacy in every heart; a desire to make the most of the summer left and a desire to launch fully into fall. And they are powerful forces, make no mistake about that.

No matter how gloriously long your summer has been, you hate to see it slip away. You hate to see the long sunny days ending just a little earlier. You hate to put down the trashy books you have been reading on the beach. You hate to dock the boat for good. You feel the loss of all that freedom as keenly as any 10 year old, even if you weren't particularly free. And if you are awkward, you hate to see that pool pass you spent so much on slip away with so little use.

However, you also rejoice in the cool fall breezes that start to sneak in at sunset. You start to dream about hot chocolate and pumpkins and Halloween. You might also start to worry about why your child suddenly wants to go trick-or-treating as a half-ninja-half-cyborg-with-radioactive-powers-from-outer-space and how one goes about making that. But mostly, fall prep is worry free; you start to gleefully put school activities on your calendar and arrange car pools, and it is fun....for now. And I don't care if you have school age kids or not, if you even have kids, if you even like kids; there is no one on earth who is immune to the lure of new school supplies.

New school supplies are the ace up fall's sleeve. Summer's got long rambling days full of warmth and adventure. Summer's got pools and water slides and vacations and endless fun. Summer's the popular kid of the seasons, it's true. But fall's got new crayons. Is there anything more potentially possible and full of hope than new crayons? Nope. There is not. Crayons are a Royal Flush, dear Readers, and nothing beats that. OK, well, except maybe Christmas, but that is a whole different post. (I don't really play poker, is there something higher than a royal flush?)

Fall dreaming is very powerful and usually the winner in the Awkward household. Typically, I give in to fall around the fourth of July. You know, when the school supplies start popping up in the stores. I don't much care for heat; I sweat a little too easily and do NOT look good in a bikini. I have always been a bit of a nerd (I know, huge shock), so the return to school was always much anticipated. The summer is OK, but apple picking, sweaters, and the delightful bustling nature of fall is where my heart is home. But not this year.

Don't get me wrong, I am still totally fiending for fall. But I have children now. Children who love the long loose days of summer. Children who are too young to be longing for fall. Children who don't have a very solid grip on time or the fact that Halloween isn't 31 days long. (Although, to be fair, some stores don't understand that one either.) Children who still love all the seasons equally. Children who lost a good 2 weeks of summer to Hand, Foot, and Mouth earlier this August (ugh, post coming on that one. I'm not ready, it's still too soon.) Children who live in the moment, and every moment is the best moment ever.

Of course, isn't that all children? They play until they drop. They sleep like they are in comas. Everything they do is what they do, they aren't making shopping lists in their minds or dreaming of some far off pleasure. They infuse every minute of their lives with boundless passion, and yes, sometimes that boundless passion takes the form of a tantrum that stops traffic. But I am talking about the good kind. Their delight in chasing fireflies that ranks up there with Christmas morning. Their joy at holding your hand which rivals their birthday party. Let them crack the eggs for the plain old box cake you are making and watch a reaction similar to the one when you go to Disneyland for the first time. Children are here. Right here.

And right here, Labor Day hasn't happened yet. School hasn't started here. And here, it is 80 degrees today with a humidity rate of 73%. It is still summer here. And I have decided to embrace that this year. I am gonna enjoy summer (and that expiring pool pass) every single moment I have left with it. Labor Day and beyond. I will stop the second I drop Super Preschooler off at Preschool or maybe the day before, you know, just to ease in to it a bit. But my point (I do have one, I swear) is that Summer and Fall can both win. You just need to be more childlike about it.

Because the ugly truth is that children come into life with boundless passion and an innate ability to enjoy the moment, and then we adults rip it right out of them. We have such good intentions. We want them to understand how exciting Christmas can be, how fun the weekend feels. We long for them to know how much we love them and so we celebrate the heck out of the day they were born, with tons of lead-up to it. We are teaching them important life lessons; it is good to have delayed gratification. It is good to have dreams and understand that good things take time. Not every day is a party.

Although, is that really true? Everyday could be a party. And I don't mean, balloons and cake and gifts and all that. Well, no, I kinda do. Life is a gift, isn't it? (Ugh, cheesetastic, Awkward Mom! Do you write for Hallmark all of a sudden?) But I am serious. How do you feel at a party? And I am not talking about that stressed out, will there be enough beer, did I remember to bring the gluten-free cookies for Aunt Hilda, is the bathroom clean enough, what if I get stuck talking to Dave from accounting, nervous feeling that adult-you now has before a party. I am talking about fun, relaxed, grateful to be enjoying people you love, eating a cookie feeling. That could happen every day. As the Mad Hatter says, "Today is my unbirthday! Pass me some of that doormouse tea!"

OK, well, it was something like that at least. Today is your unbirthday! Well, unless it is your actual birthday, and in that case, Happy Birthday, Reader! (P.S. Happy Birthday a day early to my mom if you ever figure out how to read my blog!) And if it isn't your birthday, Happy Unbirthday! If you don't know how to celebrate your unbirthday, go find a child, they will show you, lickity-split. And since we are celebrating life today, I wish you a Happy Summer! And a Happy Almost Fall! I am heading off to the pool; catch ya later, Readers!

We are summer cramming around here. Every day at the pool. Every day a new adventure. And next week? Next week we are taking our first family vacation. Ever. Awkward Dad's birthday is Labor Day this year, Readers. And he has a whole week off! We are gonna ring in his 35th year in style. Opps. Ummm...don't tell him that I told you how old he is, OK? Anyway, let the summer cramming begin!

Super Toddler knows that the best way to leave the summer is to be dragged, kicking and screaming, away from it:

Or he really wants to be in the Knights of Columbus...

Friday, August 24, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Star Wars - Return of the Jedi

We have returned to finish our Star Wars tale. The Death Star is going down. No more breaks, no more delays. And no tangents. OK...well...maybe just a small one or two.

Harrison Ford is my first crush, and that present tense is totally intended. I don't care how old he gets or if he wants to retire and move to Montana and marry Ally Mcbeal; he'll always be Han Solo to me. That he is also Dr. Indiana Jones was a revelation and occurred a little later; you know, about the time that my parents decided I was ready to see Nazis have their faces melted off by the wrath of God. That sealed the crush (gorgeous, witty, and adept at killing Nazis? Where do I sign?), but Han Solo started it all. While my friends were mooning over the New Kids on the Block, I was papering my bedroom with Star Wars posters, specifically ones with a handsome rouge, rakish scar on his chin, front and center. Why swoon over kids when you can have a man? Especially an exciting smuggler with a grin that would melt steel. Or maybe even carbonite? Oh Leia, I totally get it.

And it appears that Super Baby gets it too. Because we have arrived at the cantina, my dear Readers, and the little girl can't take her eyes off the screen.

We bought the droids, watched the message to Obi Wan, let the Sand People freak us out, marvelled at what Alec Guinness does with 10 minutes of screen time (isn't he in the movie for like 10 minutes total? 10 perfect minutes, that is.), and then we had another touch and go moment when Luke went running back to find the Lars homestead in flames. The Supers seemed to handle it okay. At least, I am pretty sure they didn't notice the charred bodies of Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen; I know I didn't as a kid. (I do now though, thanks for the nightmares, Lucas...) We fooled some stormtroopers and now we are in the cantina, and my baby girl is falling in love for the first time. Oh, it is magic, Readers! That is, unless she has the hots for one of those Biths playing the fanfar....oh God, not a musician. Please, anything but that.

Do you guys ever think about who your children will date? It can't just be me. Maybe it is just me. Even though I don't have a one over 5, I worry about this. I may be old, but the follies of youth are near enough to wince at. One has to kiss a lot of frogs before one finds a prince, and I can vividly remember some of those frogs; all those want-to-be rebels, poor (as in quality of talent, not finances) musicians, and bad boys. And I don't mean Han Solo bad, Readers. I mean, steal your car bad.

I fear for my children sometimes. OK. Most of the time. Who is gonna break their hearts? Because folks are gonna break their hearts; it is a fact of growing up. (I know they are gonna break hearts too, because, let's face it, my children are amazing. But I'll let those other mothers worry about that.) And there is no real way to prepare for it, is there? I don't know who they are gonna fall for. I don't know the mothers of these future frogs. I can't call them up and say, "Hey, in about 15 years, can you tell little Jimmy to let her down gently or wait until after the Christmas dance?" Or "When Ruth decides to date the captain of the football team instead, can you ask her not to announce it on Facebook until she has told Super P. in person? Thanks!"

Right now, Super Preschooler is in love with Leia or pretty much any princess. Since the likelihood of meeting a princess is pretty slim and I don't intend to take him to Europe anytime soon, I think we are safe for the moment. Super Baby appears to have a crush on her father and maybe now Han Solo; same difference. OK. All good. It is that little one sitting on the floor there, waving the red light saber. My middle one; my wild card. I have a funny feeling that he is gonna wanna date someone like this. And I don't mean some future date in his teens. I mean, like tomorrow. But maybe I shouldn't worry about Super Toddler. I mean, first of all, he is no frog. That boy is a catch of the highest caliber. Don't believe me? Just ask him:

We are like a couple steps and a driver's license away from James Bond over here.

And secondly, and more importantly, the child is waving a red light saber and laughing his head off at Greedo; I think I should worry about whoever breaks his heart instead.

Of course, there is a Wookieepeida! Who do you think invented the Internet? It was probably one of the first web sites in existence.

OK, we are heading to Alderaan. Except someone blew it up. So, we change course and are tractor beamed into the Death Star. Holy cats, that thing is huge! About 35 years old and still one of the coolest special effects I have ever seen. The Supers are riveted to the screen. Super Preschooler is shouting for them to stay hidden, and Super Toddler is helpfully urging Darth to look in the floor. Super Baby appears to be speaking Wookie and telling Chewie about her day. After some stormtrooper antics, we are rescuing the princess and nearly drowning in a trash compacter. (Sorry to bring back flashbacks, Crunchy Mom!) Then, Awkward Dad and I share a squeamish look as Leia kisses Luke. Super Preschooler thinks the romance is nice, so I feel no need to burst his bubble. All too soon, it will burst. And all too soon, I am in tears, watching Obi Wan sacrifice himself. Man, he's good. (It has got to be about 10 minutes, Readers. Maybe 15, tops.) I am distracted from mentally awarding Alec Guinness numerous Oscars, when I notice that Super Toddler has now turned a piece of the train table into his very own blaster. He uses it to help shoot down a few imperial fighters, make the jump to hyper-speed, and nearly kill our television. Oh well, think of it as 4D. And we are free of the death star!

It is amazing how fast things move at this point. Rebels are arming, Luke is talking about womp rats, and Han is being all antiheroy. The Supers are battling with light sabers in front of the TV and I miss Han wishing Luke the force. It is OK; it isn't like that scene isn't etched into my brain. We are staying on target. I lose a bet with Awkward Dad, turns out the guy's name really is Porkins. (Really, Lucas? Really?) The force is strong with us all as we delight in Obi Wan's ghostly voice (OK, 15 minutes for real, if you count ghost appearances), cheer Han jettisoning the anti from antihero, as he flicks Darth Vader into distant space, and ooh over the exploding Death Star. We barely have time to get some medals and listen to Super Preschooler explain that he would simply wrap all of Leia's hair into her up-do, that piece hanging down her back creating a rather confusing silhouette, before credits are rolling and Awkward Dad is begging to watch Empire Strikes Back. Right now.

But Super Baby has fallen asleep, and Super Toddler is so keyed up that he is battling stuffed animals, while accusing them of haing a "lack of faith." Super Preschooler is drawing a picture of Leia with the aforementioned up-do, and I am tired. We took down the death star, for goodness sake. Maybe Awkward Dad is worried that now that we have actually watched the movie, Star Wars interest will wane in Awkward Manor. Oh, I very much doubt it. Look around, Awkward Dad. I think the Jedi have returned and are here to stay.

Porkins? Really?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Star Wars - The Empire Strikes Back

They aren't watching Empire Strikes Back, mind you. As much as the Supers are into Yoda, we are not sure they are ready for limb severing. Since Awkward Mom is using an episodic form of storytelling this time (instead of her standard long-winded run-on post that takes days to read), she is inserting subheadings to mark her place in this tale. Obviously, she is using the original trilogy, rather than the hextology we have now. We are in the major arc of the story, not the exhausting fifth act.

Only read this next paragraph if you want to go on a nerd tangent with Awkward Mom. If not, just skip to the un-italicized part.

Of course, is it truly a hextology? Since the proper order in which to watch it is 4-6 and then 1-3. (Maybe, if one is really a completest or someone stole your copies of the Indiana Jones movies or maybe you are just drunk and can't operate Netflix.) My point (and the point of most Star Wars fans with sense) is that I doesn't hate the prequels, some parts of them are quite watchable, but you lose a great deal of dramatic tension if you head into A New Hope knowing that Darth Vader is Luke's father. Knowing that Luke and Leia are twins. Knowing the true meaning behind the Clone Wars. Now, one could argue that we know this already. We have seen these movies a hundred times. They are ingrained in our psyche and infused into our mythos. Fine. That is technically true for all movies. But unless you are a droid, you still think it is kinda cool when they are trying to figure out what Rosebud is. You gasp when Dorothy opens that door onto Oz. You still think the ending of Sixth Sense is amazing. And you freak out with him when Luke screams at the end of Empire Strikes Back. No one is making me sit through 3 other movies to help me understand Dorthy's background or Bruce Willis' motivation. Heck, Orson Welles does it in one scene with Agnes Moorehead and some snowballs; he didn't need 3 other movies. Sorry, that was truly a tangent within a tangent. My point is that when I originally watched the actual arc of the Star Wars epic, I had the pleasure of watching it without having to visualize Darth Vader as a whining little child and then a crabby young man. I got the mystery, the magic, and the some other M words that mean "really really awesome stuff" without someone having to explain everything to me. And my children will too. As fabulous as Samual L. Jackson is, as cute as Ewan Mcgregor is, and as cool as it is to see a young computer-animated Yoda kick some Empire butt, I am fine with my kids thinking of that as a neat flashback within some yucky romantic stuff, some questionable alien choices, and some bad writing. (Yes, I said it, and I have heard worse, so relax. Lucas is still sleeping on his pile of money and inventing awesome stuff, my barb aside.) OK. I am done. Just think of it as my prequel to this post; unnecessary, full of nerded-out references, and completely optional.

Where did I leave you last? This is starting to feel like one of those serials where the camera cuts away just when the hero is jumping the big ravine on his horse. Which is totally appropriate because Lucas was inspired by movie serials when making Star Wars. How do I know this? Because I have listened to a lecture on the importance of serials every single time I have watched Star Wars with Awkward Dad. The lecture he is starting right now, as the word crawl starts to crawl. Super Baby must not be into it because she quickly puts her fingers in his mouth; it isn't like she won't have another chance to hear it. We settle in to watch and the children properly ooh and aah as Leia's tiny rebel ship is dwarfed by that huge testimony to the true power of the Galactic Empire. (Shivers, Readers. It gives me shivers.)The rebels run around and Super Preschooler remarks that their helmets could use a major re-design. The Supers giggle as R2-D2 and C-3PO make their bumbling appearance and that brief glimpse of Leia continues to send Super Preschooler into raptures. I swear, this princess phase is really hanging on.

OK, we have been here before, but I am starting to panic a little because you know who is coming through that door in about 10 seconds and I can't watch Awkward Dad's heart break again. I start biting my nails and nervously glancing at Super P., then Awkward Dad, then the screen, then back to Super P., then Awkward Dad, and then the screen. The tension is palpable and I swear that my heart is starting to beat out bum bum bum-bum, bum bum-bum bum....oh, you know how it goes... One quick look to Super Baby reassures me, as she is foraging for fallen popcorn and we could have Pyscho on; she wouldn't notice. Super Toddler is all but chanting "the Empire Forever," as he laughs and awaits his buddy, Darth. Super Preschooler's arm has snaked around Awkward Dad's and his eyes are darting back and forth, much like the rebels' on the screen. OK, door busts in. Here we go.

Oh, Readers. It is perfection. He gasps. He hides his face in Awkward Dad's chest. Awkward Dad pats him on the back and says "Oh, there he is!" Super Preschooler pops up and peeks at Darth through his laced fingers, just in time to see him choke someone to death. Charming. "Oh, he is so bad," he intones; amazement and horror fighting for control in his face. He clings to Awkward Dad in a way that his big 4-year-oldness hasn't allowed him to in ages, you know, like 3 months or so. Super P. turns to gaze up at Awkward Dad, and Awkward Dad smiles reassuringly and kisses him on the head. I have an uncontrollable urge to follow him into battle.

Darth stalks around the ship and we all can't look away. Super Preschooler yells at R2-D2 to hurry up and white-knuckles it, until the bad guy declares that no life forms are aboard the pod. Super Toddler seems disappointed that they didn't shoot it down. Super Baby is bobbing for popcorn between 2 cushions and my heart rate is slowly returning to normal. Awkward Dad and Super Preschooler both look about 4 years old in the flickering light of televised space. With their expressions softened in wonder, they could be clones. Good ones, that is.

The action shifts to Tatooine and Awkward Dad and Super Preschooler start an animated discussion about Jawas. Their eyes, round as saucers, troll the screen together, and I finally relax enough to rescue Super Baby from a crevice in the couch. Super Toddler has run off to get a light saber, and as I pluck a popcorn kernel out of Super Baby's hair and pop it in my mouth, I am quite content to let the empire be in charge of my evening.

Oh, don't give up yet, dear Readers! Our tale shall come to a roaring conclusion with interactive light sabers fights, first crushes, and more geeking out than you can shake a blaster at.
And no Ewoks, I promise!

Toddler Awkward Mom, about the time she first saw Star Wars.

Super Toddler, showing that he resembles Awkward Mom in many ways.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Star Wars - A New Hope

A long time ago (or maybe last Thursday) in a galaxy far, far away (somewhere awkward and actually just in Ann Arbor)....

When your supers are little, you dream about their futures. You hope that they inherit your stunning sense of humor and someone else's nose. You dream about all those seminal moments in their lives. Those huge milestones that you will get to share with them. First steps. First teeth. First days of school. Taking them to college. Walking them down the aisle at their weddings. And if you are awkward, more important than all the rest, the first time they watch Star Wars.

I am not even going to explain why Awkward Dad and I love Star Wars. It should be clear to anyone who has read even one entry of this blog. But really, the main reason is that Star Wars is awesome. If you don't believe this, don't tell me. I just don't want to believe that people in the world could be immune to the glorious pageantry, the ancient wisdom, or Han's grin. Just go watch it, preferably with someone under the age of 10. I believe you will be taken in before you know it. Soon, you too will be humming Darth Vader's theme and plastering your bedroom walls with Harrison Ford posters. OK...that might just be me. 13 year old me, to be exact.

Awkward Dad and I have been waiting for this day the second we found out we were having children. I am serious. The birth and all that might have been a distant second or it might have been even further back, behind the first time they saw the Muppets. It is all a blur now. We were so looking forward to this day, that we tried to rush it. Never a good plan when pushing your passions onto your children.

When Super Preschooler was about 3, Awkward Dad got a little ahead of himself. You see, Super P. had been playing with Awkward Dad's old Star Wars toys. Little Jawas and Yodas had made their way into his toy castle. Luke Skywalker was pinch-hitting for the prince, and the Star Wars story had worked its way into the bedtime story catalog, with coloring books and comics serving as visual aids. Light sabers had even appeared for Super P.'s birthday, but the only one interested in those was a 1 year old Super Toddler. Emboldened by Super Preschooler's interest and his recent trauma-free viewing of The Wizard of Oz, we all settled onto the couch and settled in for some magic.

He was fine with spaceships. He wanted the word crawl read to him. He laughed at R2-D2 and C-3PO. He gasped with delight at the brief glimpse of Leia, and then it all fell apart. Darth Vader came sashaying through that door, flanked by an army of stormtroopers, with an undercurrent of danger thundering from his menacing music and the harsh hissing of his helmet, and Super Preschooler lost his mind. And I don't mean the full glorious absorption into our childhood wonder that we were desiring. No, he actually fled the room. Awkward Dad and I didn't notice at first because we were watching Super Toddler, who was laughing and waving at Darth like they were college frat brothers.

I found Super Preschooler hiding in the hallway. He refused to go back into the living room. Awkward Dad begged him. He pleaded with him. He promised him candy and toys and basically violated every parenting rule under the sun. He promised him more Leia. He promised to let him watch Return of the Jedi and see Leia in her slave girl outfit, which really did nothing for Super Preschooler and I think was pretty self-serving. He refocused and promised Super Preschooler jawas, hutts, wookies, and ewoks. Super P. was not having it. He looked right at Awkward Dad and told him that Star Wars was too scary and that he would be ready to watch it when he was 10 years old. I am pretty sure all of Ann Arbor heard Awkward Dad's heart break.

The next year and a half passed in anguished slowness for Awkward Dad. (I had a few other things to keep me busy. You know, just little things, like a new baby.) Super Preschooler continued his Star Wars interest with unflagging enthusiasm, but when asked to watch the movie he would relentlessly announce that he was too young. I could see Awkward Dad going gray before us, it was heartbreaking.

Light saber fights would erupt in the living room. Are you ready to watch the movie, Super P.? Nope.

They would pretend to fly the Millennium Falcon (a diaper box with a toy cat in it) through the kitchen. Are you ready to watch the movie, Super P.? Nope.

Jawas would be found in the fridge. Not ready.

Yoda would take a bath with them. Not ready.

Coloring book pages of Hoth would be ripped out and hung on the wall. Not ready.

They would parade through the house and announce that Awkward Dad was the Death Star and Super Cat was Darth Vader, while dressed like Thor and a ballerina. (I don't pretend to understand toddler logic, I am just the reporter.) Not ready.

Sometimes, Super P. would act out parts of the movie that he hadn't seen yet but had witnessed in his comics. It was like he was messing with Awkward Dad. But, he was heartless, not ready. Not old enough. Too scary. No. No. No.

And then, a new hope. (wink, wink, nudge, nudge.)

In our effort to promote family cohesiveness and bounding, while being cheap and laying around on the couch, we have started family movie night. We were debating which movie to watch last Thursday when I, jokingly, suggested Star Wars. (Sometimes, I can be as mean as Super Preschooler.) Poor Awkward Dad. He didn't even try to look excited or hopefully as he popped the popcorn. I was digging through the DVDs, looking for Toy Story or Night at the Museum, when Super P. shrugged a shrug that looked about 17 years old, and said, "OK."

Time stood still, as we all turned to watch Awkward Dad straighted up and take the popcorn out of the microwave. Ball was in his court; how was he gonna play it? He slowly turned around, popped some popcorn in his mouth, and shrugged exactly the same way. "I guess that would be fine." Oozing nonchalance, he sauntered to the couch, looking like this was a normal Thursday. But I have been married to the man for nearly 10 years, and I could see that the light in his eyes was brighter than an exploding Alderaan. This was no normal Thursday movie night.

Oh, is she really gonna leave us hanging like that? What is her problem? She is acting almost like this is going to be a trilogy post or something.....

I want to rename our stroller the Millennium Falcon, but I am afraid that the Death Star is more appropriate.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Eavesdropping

Awkward Mom has many super powers; acute eavesdropping, level 10 gossiping ability, and a tendency to judge moms who wear makeup to the park are just a smattering of her many gifts.

In my pursuit of healthy outdoor activities for my children, I sometimes listen in on the Perfect Moms. It passes the time.

"I was rather disappointed with the marathon aspect of the Disneyland trip."

"You have injured Joyful's spirit, please make amends."

"I just feel that her use of formula is tantamount to child abuse."

"I am sure there is an app for that."

"Not that I am judging, but she is a terrible mother."

"Well, you have to saute the Chard first. Duh."

"I wouldn't dream of owning a television, can you imagine what it does to their focus?"
(this woman's son was using her iphone at the time.)

"Oh, I was much bigger at 8 months. Have you talked to your midwife?"

"Sugar is really just poison, everyone knows that."

"I mean, you are doing your kegels, right?"

"If I don't run at least 10 miles, I feel like such a blob."

"We just swapped the letters; that way hers is unique."

"Oh, Brooke potty trained herself, but I hear that can be a problem for boys."

"Oh no, thank you, sweetie, but we don't share food."
(This was after Super Toddler tried to share a Cheez-it with another little boy. His mom threw it away. Super Toddler gave him another one while her back was turned.)

"Oh, I would just be naked without it."

"Well, Dr. Oz says so."

"Have you fully grieved your C-section yet?"

"We started his violin lessons late, around age 4. But I think he is ready for piano now too."

"Hey, I think that awkward looking mom over there is listening in!
What a weirdo. Oh, and did you see her shirt? Yikes."

Despite the presence of about 600 Perfect Moms (seriously, it was like a convention of perfection), Excellent Mom and I enjoyed our park playdate. We were great moms today, ensuring that the kids were outside, experiencing the splendor of nature.
While eating Cheez-its.
Whatever. Judge if you want to, you know that I do!

Who goes to Disneyland and runs a marathon? Is this a thing?

We aren't starting any lessons late around here!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Romantic Comedies

Stop being so friendly, Super Baby!

I am watching Super Baby romp with Phenomenal Baby. Phenomenal Baby is a true phenom; grace personified in a pink dress as pretty as she is. At an amazing 10 months, she prefers to walk, but she really floats. She is gorgeous. I tear my eyes away to watch Super Baby roll by. I think rolling is easier for her because she is completely round and looks exactly like a grape in her purple corduroy overalls. They looked so cute at home. Now, I am not so sure. This is not the first time I have questioned my ability to make appropriate sartorial decisions for my daughter. This is not the first time I have questioned my ability to raise a daughter.

I am worried that I am raising a friend. You know what I am talking about. The friend character in the romantic comedy. The one who listens patiently to the lead get drunk and whine all about the woes of dating a rich, handsome, wonderful architect/doctor/ad executive, when she really loves the broke artist, who is also handsome and wonderful, and who becomes a rich, successful artist in the last scene anyway. That one. The listening one. The one who is funny. The one who has dates and adventures that happen completely off screen. The one who bails the lead out of jail when she completely misinterprets something the architect/doctor/ad executive does and flies into a rage that would be frightening, but because she is beautiful and the lead, it is just mildly silly. The one who has to drive the lead across town in 7 minutes, through traffic, so she can catch the architect/doctor/ad executive before he gets on a plane and flies off to whatever exciting and humanitarian adventure his perfect self is flying off to. The one who then drives the lead, back through the same traffic, when she realizes, midway through her big monologue, that she really loves the poor and struggling artist. The one who is either fat, ugly, or a flamboyantly gay man. I think Super Baby may be able to avoid that last one, but she is still heading toward friend territory. And yes, I know that movie-star fat and movie-star ugly is still jaw-dropping beautiful. That isn't what worries me anyway. It is more her inner "friendness" that concerns me.

Super Baby has a passivity that has made her first 8 months of life so easy and so full of sleep. I am quite grateful for this, but now I am ready for some feistiness. I know that it is in there. I have seen flashes of it; mostly when she is hungry. But most of the time, she is a total, go-with-the-flow, slacker baby. I watch Perfect Babies snatch toys from her and I see the frustration flash in her absolutely beautiful eyes before a gentle resignation takes over. You can almost see her baby shoulders shrug, while her "oh well, there are other toys" attitude kicks in. Maybe it comes from a lack of mobility. Maybe it comes from being a third child. Maybe she is just that peaceful and non-materialistic. But I keep seeing that flash. Where is that flash going? And what is gonna happen when it finally blows?

Whatever it is, I have never really worried about this before. Super Preschooler is straight up lead, with his confidence, charm, and, most importantly, clothes. Super Toddler has already informed us that he will be staring in action movies, so this just leaves little Super Baby for me to fret over. And fret I do.

What kind of friend will she be? Will she be the mopey one who never finds love, except for in the last scene when she drops her glasses and bumps into a man who has also dropped his glasses? Will she be the funny one who steals all the scenes but still doesn't have her name above the movie title? Will she be the goth one they throw in there sometimes? Will she is be the nerdy one who figures out some MacGuffin that moves the plot into its final arc? Will she be the angry career one? Will she be the angry divorced one? Will she be the party girl who really longs for love? Will she be the one Hollywood keeps telling us is the lead but we really know isn't? (I am looking at you Katherine Heigl.) Will she be the one whose parts you fast forward to because she is just way more interesting than the lead?

Because that is the real secret, isn't it? We like the friends. We really prefer the friends. We relate to them and identify with them and find their tiny bits of plot way more fascinating that anything the leads are doing, which is mostly staring into each other's lovely, but rather bland, features, when they aren't racing around New York City in their "getting-to-know-each-other" montage. No, I don't mind her being the friend, I just don't want her to think of herself as just the friend.

Because I spent more than 30 years thinking of myself as "just the friend," and that, as you know, my dear Readers, is a giant waste of time. No one is "just the friend," especially not in the movie of his/her own life. (Mine is no romantic comedy though, I prefer to think of it as an Epic.) I am the star of a wonderfully awkward adventure and it pains me that it took me so long to see that. I am a great friend and I will totally be the friend character in your romantic comedy. I will come bail you out of jail, drink with you, and tell you it is OK to break up with the architect/doctor/ad executive if you really want to be with the poor, but utterly gorgeous looking, artist who "stirs your soul like he stirs his paints." I won't even tell you that you sound stupid. Because I am a great friend. But I am the lead over here in my Epic, and, because I am married to Foggy Nelson, there is no need to drive me anywhere. We are gonna eat some chocolate and watch some Netflix; you are welcome to join us though.

I want Super Baby to be a great friend and a great lead. And I want her to realize that her friendness and her leadness can coexist and realize it long before her 30th birthday. I just have to figure out how to do this, so advice is welcome. I am on the fence as to whether or not the purple corduroy overalls are hurting my cause, but I still think they are kinda cute. I mean, who doesn't like grapes?

We have a feeling Super Baby's Romantic Comedy is gonna be a hit; that it will feature a lot of indie music, win a Golden Globe, and pair her with Joseph Gordon-Levitt goes without saying.

Well, this look is slightly better than the grape one.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Poetry - rematch

The muse strikes again!

Baby girl is first awake,
in a bed magically full of children;
weren't you all tucked in somewhere else just hours ago?
You stretch and retch into my ear,
so I blink awake to marvel at your beauty.
It is immense.
You giggle and gaze until your merry eyes land to your left;
you seem startled, like you can't recognize your brother in his resting state.
But then a coal lights behind your cobalt eyes and smolders
until a burning desire shakes your tiny fingers with glee.
You lunge out towards him, leaning dangerously off my chest in your quest;
your entire body tenses and arches toward him,
every muscle working for your goal;
baby Olympian despite my best efforts.
You finally reach him and hover,
for just one single second of peace;
one single moment to admire you both so close together,
in the cool morning air before the day gets hot and heavy.
One single moment
before plunging your adorable fingers into his beautifully tousled hair.
I don't blame you, baby girl,
those tendrils are tempting.
You shriek with laughter.
He just shrieks,
And the eldest slams a pillow into the both of you.
Must be morning.

Good awkward morning, Readers! Hope yours are as festive, although maybe just a hair quieter.

The early bird.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Haircuts - part 2

Will Super Toddler tie himself to the hair salon and pull it down around himself? Will we get his hair cut first? Are this many Samson references sinful or just awkward? Let's tune in and find out!

So, when I last left you, I was explaining that Super Toddler gets a little godzillaish when we attempt to cut his hair. OK, when I pay someone else to attempt to cut his hair. After our Super Cuts disaster, we were a little lost as to where to take him, and after witnessing the Super Cuts disaster, I was even more committed to not doing it myself or inflicting him on any of my generous frugal friends who offered to do it in a swing at the park. Y'all are sweet, but please, think of the children. Think of the poor park equipment. Think of DCFS; they are busy enough.

Anywho, enter the Awesome family. They didn't offer to cut Super Toddler's hair at the park. They kinda thought that was as weird as I did. They informed me about this hair salon just for kids. A magical place with televisions placed in front of firetruck chairs, a slide in the waiting area, and balloons everywhere. Numerous suckers just for sitting still, and all the children sit still because all the stylists are fairy godmothers with PhDs in handling Samson-like children. It sounds like Shangri La, Neverland, and Mario Tricoci all wrapped up together. I worried that such a wonder must be out of our reach, financially speaking, and while it is no swing at the park, a quick peek at their website told me that it is fairly reasonable, especially when we are talking about avoiding Hulk-level destruction.

Super Toddler has been there twice now, and while he hasn't knocked down the building, he sure hasn't sat still. The first time we went was an Awkward family outing because I sure wasn't gonna attempt it myself. We took both boys (Super Baby was still super-incubating at the time), and the way they walked in the salon told me everything I needed to know. Super Preschooler walked in like someone coming home. He skipped through the door, greeted the fairy godmother stylists like he had known them his whole life, and climbed up the stairs of the slide while holding hands with some random little girl. I swear to you, he looked like something out of the end of Sound of Music. He and his new hair BFF slid down together and romped happily until his name was called. He angelically scaled a Lighting McQueen chair, selected a Curious George to watch, and politely cocked his head to the left. The stylists were about ready to crown him king of the haircuts and shower suckers upon him when they realized that he was related to the loud pile of toddler collapsed by the front door.

Super Toddler behaved like a vampire that hadn't been invited in, so he had to be bodily carried over the threshold of the salon. Once inside, the vampire antics continued; he howled and thrashed like we were bathing him in holy water and garlic. I was fully expecting his head to start spinning around, but he settled for banging on the windows and screaming for the passersby to save him. I don't even think he saw the slide. His name was, reluctantly, called by a fairly capable looking women with impressively motionless Farrah Fawcett hair and glasses the size of small moons. Awkward Dad plopped Super Toddler into her firetruck chair, from which he immediately escaped. We tried a rocket, a police cruiser, and Super Preschooler's Lighting McQueen car; he bested them all. We had to settle for Awkward Dad's lap. We strait-jacketed him into a drape, Awkward Dad pinned his arms down, and I held his head, as this woman used some sort of spell to make her scissors fly. (Told you they were fairy godmothers) The Backyardagins did nothing to drown out Super Toddler's screaming and even the children playing by the slide stilled to stare at him. Our fairy godmother stylist showed her ignorance of Super Toddler and tried to bribe him with a sucker before the hair cut was over. Within 5 seconds, she was forced to cut it out of Awkward Dad's hair. Multiple balloons popped, combs went flying off her shelf, and I received a bruise that lasted 3 weeks, but Super Toddler's hair was cut. Here he is, tamed:

Well, slightly tamed. Whatever. Super Cat seems impressed.

That was the last haircut Super Toddler had. That is, until yesterday. I put it off as long as I could, but the child's hair was looking like this:

It was beyond time.

OK. So, this time I was flying solo. I let Super Preschooler go in first to charm them. He wasn't getting his hair cut, as it still grows about the speed of sloth snails sleeping, but I figured he could run reconnaissance for us. With a quiet stillness that I hoped would inspire confidence, I secured Super Baby in the stroller, placed Super Toddler on the sidewalk, and wheeled Super Baby past him to the door. Then, I flung the door open, shoved her and the stroller inside to the ohhing fairy godmothers, and took off at the sprint down the strip mall to catch the fleeing Super Toddler. I snatched him two steps from the dance studio and hauled him back. I think his banshee screams might have caused an accident or two on the way and I am truly sorry for that.

By the time I reached the hair salon, Super Baby was in danger of being adopted by Farah, whose glasses had grown to the size of medium moons in between visits. With no ceremony whatsoever, I bundled Super Toddler into a drape and plopped him in the firetruck chair. Like a modern day Houdini, he escaped within the time it took for Super Preschooler to find a slide-friend, Farah to tuck a towel around Super Baby, lest she get chilled in the air conditioning, and me to take off my backpack. I caught him at the door and, wrapping myself in a Disney Princess drape, I set my jaw, rooted Super Toddler onto my lap, and settled into the regular barber chair for whatever shenanigans this child had up his sleeve. There were a bunch.

He zigged. He zagged. He pretended to be interested in Phineas and Ferb, only to fling his head into my face the second I got complacent. He screamed. He cried. He nearly hyper-ventilated. He made teeny, tiny whimpering sounds that tested my resolve like nothing else my young motherhood has ever encountered. His blue big eyes were wet with tears as they met mine in the mirror; the betrayal he felt was palpable and stinging. As a result, I was a little rough to Farah as she offered him suckers midway through, but really, had she learned nothing last time? I don't really blame her, it was the longest haircut on record.

But, unbelievably, the Samson principle holds true. With every lock of silky golden hair that tumbled to the floor, his strength weakened. He started like a lion. He struggled, he kicked, he fought with every ounce of his spirit, but in the end, he was cuddled up in the arms, weeping quietly and letting Farah trim around his ears. And I will tell you a secret, Readers; I didn't like it one bit.

It was scary. Super Toddler is joyful and loud and feisty and passion personified. To have your wild child, broken, sad, and curled up in your arms like he doesn't care what happens, is something I don't want any of you to experience. I would rather have to peel him off the ceiling than gingerly pull him off my lap. But I did it. I pulled him off my lap and knelt down in front of him to wipe his tears away with the Sleeping Beauty section of my Princess drape. There was not much I could do about the hair we were both covered in, but I brushed away what I could, while avoiding his sorrowful eyes. I picked him up, and he clung to me like a baby kangaroo. I overpaid Farah and gathered the other Supers, and I somehow got them all to the car without putting Super Toddler down. I gently put him in his car seat and offered him a sucker. He gave it to Super P. with a shrug that fractured my heart.

We began the ride to met Excellent Mom at Ikea (post coming!) in deathly silence. I rolled up the windows, so that I wouldn't have to face the fact that the wind didn't whip his hair around anymore. I called back that we were gonna have a special lunch at Ikea, but I got no response. I was about to despair when Super Preschooler started to talk about bouncing on the beds in the furniture section; a huge no-no. I gazed into the backseat to meet Super Toddler's eyes. With every mention of bed-bouncing, they got a little brighter. And brighter. And brighter. Until they were burning with a sass unparalleled. I could feel my own sass returning as well. We might be about to be kicked out of Ikea, but, Samson-headed or shorn, my wild child was back in the saddle.

PS...Do people really cut their children's hair in swings at the park? We have never seen this with our own eyes. Does it happen at night? It is a pagan ritual? Comment us and let us know if this is a real thing or if Awkward Mom's frugal friends were having a laugh at her expense. It is common knowledge that her frugal ways are not fully developed and susceptible to gullibility. Thanks for the read, Readers; catch you next time for some Ikea adventures!

Fear not, Readers. He'll probably be back to this look by next week.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Haircuts - Part 1

We now understand why Samson's mom let his grow out.

All of you know how Super Toddler can be. For a refresher, check out this post; it introduces you to the wild child of the Awkward clan. If it is possible, he is even more delightfully outrageous these days. He has been talking more and his inner world is every bit as spunky and gleeful as I thought it might be. However, his hair is starting to match his wild ways:

Now, I know that I could let him be a hippie child if I wanted. After all, this is Ann Arbor. However, it is also summer and the poor thing is starting to resemble a poodle stuck in a sauna. I decide to bite the bullet and schedule a hair appointment for him.

What's that, my frugal friends? Why am I not cutting it myself? Ah, well, let me tell you a little story: Once upon a time, Super Preschooler was nearly 2 years old and finally ready for a haircut. Super P. resembled Professor X from birth until then, so no haircuts had been needed. Awkward Dad proudly bought a pair of clippers, spread a plastic sheet on the dining room floor, placed Super Preschooler, in his high chair, in the middle of it, and commenced clipping. To this day, I do not know if it was the inexperience, the slippery plastic sheet, or the screaming emanating from the high chair (most likely all three), but Awkward Dad slipped, knocked the high chair, with the heir to the Awkward line still screaming within, directly onto me, who was trying to capture a sweet and endearing picture for his baby book, and then clippered right through the power cord. Call it trauma. Call it lazy. Whatever it is, we have let other people cut the Supers' hair since then. Leave me alone, I use coupons!

So, Super Preschooler has been an angel at every haircut since his second haircut. He just goes with Awkward Dad and behaves like a teeny tiny old man:

Personally, I like the critical head-cocked-to-the-side, like he is really considering asking her to take more off by the ears. He sits stone still, moves when they ask him, and politely thanks them for the balloons and suckers they lavish on him. Emboldened by this behavior, we didn't panic at all when Super Toddler arrived looking like a refegee from Woodstock:

We took him to Awkward Dad's Super Cuts before his first birthday. Oh, naive Awkwards....

Readers, I am serious when I tell you, I really didn't know that a child of 11 months could have such a strong right hook. Now, Awkward Dad likes his Super Cuts, and his Super Cuts likes him. They really adore Super Preschooler, but after Super Toddler's unique expressions of displeasure, they were not going to serve the Awkward Family without endangering their lives and building. I think the options were pretty clear. We had to find a new place for Super Toddler's haircuts. And a gym for him to train in.

Oh Readers, I hate to leave you hanging like that! But if the noises coming from the living room are to be believed, we are at war and I better go deal with some lego-projectiles before someone loses an eye. Back soon to let you know how the whole cutting of Super Toddler's hair went. I bet you can guess, and know this, we are really lucky that we didn't enter any pagan temples today.