Three-minute secrets to make your pants look younger.

I don't love rules.  OK - I don't love rules as they apply to me.  Ironically, at least two out of three of my children show a clear aptitude for "conduct policy enforcement", also known as "head hall monitor".  Each day they debrief, giving a detailed report of all of the goings on at T. Elementary School, including recess, lunch, and the always adventurous, educational, and slightly disturbing bus ride home (this, my friends is another post all together).  They remember how many stickers D. got on his "cooperation chart" during calendar time, and which girl B. was talking to when she got a warning during the spelling test. But when pressed with the question "what did you learn today?" they stare at me like Timothy Geitner trying to explain the AIG bonus thing.  

I think mostly I just don't like other people trying to be the boss of me.  I relent slightly on this where my mother is concerned (anyone that lets you live inside their body for almost a year earns some bossiness currency with that), and also to my sisters as it relates to giving my children things that I would normally say "no" to.  They say things like "come here to your Auntie" and then they somehow totally undermine me without being disrespectful or rude.  It is a true blessing for the children of the crazy sister to have access to the far more stable sisters to plead their case.  It's child advocacy at it's most effective, really.

I, however, am not now, nor will I ever be, ok with getting lifestyle/parenting advice from magazines, Oprah Winfrey or (let's face it) most of the time, my pediatrician.  They try to tell me lots of stuff that has nothing to do with medicine that I pretty much roll my eyes at because I know that by my next child, their recommendations will have changed based on the "latest research".  I especially do not like it when a magazine to which I have subscribed  (presumably because it was part of a magazine and wrapping-paper school-fundraising sale) shows up at my house covered in an airbrushed and professionally lit photo of some supermodel/celebrity/mom trying to resurrect her career by sharing with me and other common folk her three minute beauty tricks and radically new mothering philosophies.   

The latest of these allegedly real-mom advice givers is Helena Christensen on the cover of my "Cookie" magazine.  If you don't know who she is... remember when they used to have music videos on MTV?  Remember the Chris Isaak music video "Wicked Game"?  Remember the pretty-much-nudie girl frolicking on the beach in the Chris Isaac music video "Wicked Game"?  Meet Helena.  (Mom, I always covered my eyes - promise.)  In case you're clinging to the edge of your seat like you're watching an episode of Lost, her "three 3-minute beauty tricks" are: 
1.a warm, nude face, 2.red lipstick, 3.metallic eyeshadow.  Gee, thanks Helena.  My guess at your "three 3-minute beauty tricks" was : 1.  Look like Helena Christensen.  Oh, did I say three tricks?  I meant one.

In addition to salvaging her otherwise hopeless appearance with her magic red lipstick, apparently Helena is also a "hands on" kind of mom (she probably chooses the nanny herself), and is qualified to dole out parenting advice as well.  She says of her 9 year old son, "He's all that matters.  He's my best friend."  To that, I say:  Crazy Talk.   I am not my 9 year old's best friend.  I never hope to be.  I am not my child's peer.  I never will be.  I am her mother, I will always be her mother, and being her mother means that I love her more than any of her BFFs ever will.  Being her mother means that I love her so much that I do what is best for her, not what is fun for her - even when that means I'm not super popular with her.  I am an adult woman, and my mother?  Still my mother.  What I've seen in my life is that women that had a friend instead of a mother, spend their whole lives searching for someone to help them feel secure by being their bossy, stable, female authority figure and they latch onto anything that comes close.  Thanks Helena, but I'm the bossy one around here and since in the end everything is the mom's fault anyway... I'm going to earn my kid's therapy hours the old fashioned way. 

ps - Your "He's all that matters" theory = selfish, self centered children who think that their needs supersede every one's around them.  Sometimes, children need to understand that they are not all that matters because, let's be honest  - they just aren't.  It doesn't mean that we don't love them, but it does mean that they need to learn to wait their turn... for siblings, or life, or for mom to go to the bathroom... by herself... without anyone watching her... or telling her random facts about how sharks, or worms or dinosaurs poop too.

I am hoping that one day I will see featured on the cover a magazine the beauty secrets of a real life woman addressing things like; "When you just can't get around to showering - best scents for masking the smell of throw-up", "Bras that make your boobs look like they did before you nursed three children" and "Acne and wrinkles-who knew they could go together?"  The parenting section would have advice like "Don't worry - you're doing fine and it's not your fault.  Lots of kids pick their noses in public.  Just speak really loudly and say "Your mom told you not to do that anymore.  Hey, where did she go anyway?", then roll your eyes and walk far enough away to feign a convincing search for the mystery mom." 

Now tell me women all over the country would not line up to buy that.  I, for one, will be looking for that publication to purchase in the next school fundraiser, and if I know anything... so will Helena Christensen.  Or at least her nanny will.
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The shoes make the pants.

I believe that the right pair of shoes can change everything.  If you don't believe me, you clearly were not paying attention during the once-a-year Wizard of Oz television-viewing-extravaganza that was a mainstay of the American childhood pop culture experience.  Too bad for you, because this story has a really good moral.  Maybe you thought "...Oz" was about how only bad people are ugly. (And I quote, "I'm a good witch.  Only bad witches are ugly").  Maybe you thought it was a documentary about the exploitation of flying monkeys (poor monkeys, they're probably a lot less scary in their natural habitat). Maybe you thought it was about scaring little kids into taking better care of their mangy little pets, or else get taken hostage by a green skinned shut-in with an hour glass of death and an acute case of aquaphobia.  (No bubble baths for her, I guess.  I wonder if she can brush her teeth.)

Maybe you thought those things.  You'd be wrong.  The Wizard of Oz is actually a story about how, because she had the right pair of shoes, Dorothy was able to annoy powerful people, get to where she wanted to go, became a hero to millions of oppressed people (namely low-wage laborers in the Lollipop Guild and Lullaby League) and look really pretty while doing it.  If you still don't believe me that it's all about the shoes, perhaps it would interest you to know that Dorothy's shoes in the book The Wizard of Oz were silver, but silver isn't exactly a cha-cha color on screen and so...  the Ruby Slippers were born - and the theme of a political satire was lost.  Shoes trump politics every time.

Of course, the magic shoe voodoo all depends upon Dorothy keeping the shoes on her feet.  Apparently no one bothered to tell that to Muntadhar al-Zaidi.  In December 2008 Muntadhar al-Zaidi took off his shoes and threw both of them at then President Bush at a press conference in Iraq as a response to the "occupation" of his country.  Fortunately for President Bush, he is a lot quicker than he looks and does a mean "bob and weave".  Unfortunately for Mr. al-Zaidi, although he achieved the "annoying powerful people" and the "becoming a hero to millions" parts of the Oz lesson, the "getting to go where you want to go" lesson... not so much.  Unless, of course, he wanted to go to an Iraqi prison... for three years... for assaulting a Head of State.

I must admit that, although I don't subscribe to shoe-throwing myself (even though it would make an amusing carnival dunk-tanky kind of game), and I'm deeply conflicted about the war in Iraq with all its accompanying baggage, I think this guy has guts...and a little bit of crazy - which I respect.  Although less guts and less crazy than the guy I read about on the Google that threw a shoe at the Iranian president this month.  Or the guy that threw one at him in December of 2006.  Never heard of them?  Shocker.  I'm betting that they didn't get any 3 years in prison either.  

I think that the fact that we all know this man, and know where he is now proves some things.  Even in places where it wasn't before, it's now OK to disagree with, be angry at, and show your disapproval of your government without blowing yourself up in a public market killing babies, children and old people.  You can still be heard and even be a little famous without destroying yourself and your home.  I'll take a couple of oxfords over an IED any day of the week - and I'm betting President Bush would  too.  This is hope, people.  Hope that catches on like a red, sparkly pair of high heels in a black and white movie... and there's no ignoring red, sparkly high heels.  Pretty soon everyone will want a pair. I know. I own some (patent leather, not bedazzled).

Which brings me to my second point.  The right shoe (and sometimes the left shoe, too) can change everything.  Like when you put them on and send yourself  home, or like when you take them off and hope to send someone else to theirs.  Yep, shoes trump politics every time - even the Wicked Witch of the West knew that.

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You still need pants - even with a lab coat.

Who here wants to repeat the third grade?  Anyone?  Well, too bad for you because if you have a child - even a really little one that doesn't make much noise and is relatively cute -  you will be repeating the third grade... along with all the other grades, too.  If this is news to you, then clearly the homework has not started coming home yet.  My third grader actually has homework that she is instructed to do "with a parent" (and this is not like the 7th grade health class homework that I had to do with my parents - you know what homework I mean.  My dad was very thorough with this.  He did not want me falling for any crazy-liberal fancy-talk when it came to the all important "abstinence only" education).  No, this is math and spelling and all the boring, and might I add, totally not-useful stuff I had to learn the first time around.  All I'm saying is that I went all the way through calculus in high school and guess what... no one cares!  Also, two words:  spell check.  (Or is that one word.  Hmmm... maybe I'll recant on the spelling thing.)

So, I've just barely figured out a way to trick my kids into doing their own homework while convincing them that I really am helping them like their teacher said, when those pesky PTA people go and mess the whole thing up.  I am convinced that these are the same people that as children raised their hands at every question the teacher asked, even if they didn't know the answer, just so they could get the participation points. Now they're forcing their participating ways onto my family by convincing my children that they want to be involved in the mother of all extended homework projects, known as the Elementary School Science Fair.

They hooked my daughter first.  She came home armed with half a plan and dreams of a first place "I'm a Better Scientist Than You Are" ribbon.  She recently won the "design a bookmark" contest at school and I think the fame has gone to her head.  She then proceeded to convince my son that his short life's ambition is to taste the glory of science fair victory, as well.  I'm telling you - it was Adam and Eve all over again (except this time I can't kick them out and tell them that they're on their own with their big idea project).  I thought that I could derail them by pointing out that it's 2009 - not 1983, and that means that no one actually gets to win anymore.  The most they're getting out of this thing is a lousy Certificate of Participation and a mother that's slightly more grouchy than usual.  Nope, they still want to do the stupid projects.

So, now I'm helping coordinate two, count 'em, two elementary science fair projects.  I felt it only fair that I should get to help choose the subject matter, since I will end up doing at least 5o% of the work.  I had two solid suggestions that were pretty rad, if I do say so myself.  

1. "Peeps:  What the Heck Are Those Things?"  OK, tell me that that title didn't catch your attention and make you think "Yeah, what are those things?" Seriously, we could blow one up in the microwave, see if one freezes, see if one floats, leave one out on the counter for 6 weeks and see if it's still edible, even use one as a conductor of electricity (I thought we could try to make some kind of lamp out of it).  The list is endless, really.  In addition to this idea being really good science, my family has a joke that my dad actually died because he ate too many Peeps.  I still laugh every time I see one of those little guys, which means I could at least derive  a little dark pleasure from this experience.

2.  "Poop:  A Study in Gender Differences"  This is an anthropological study really, and you can try it for yourself since it didn't make the cut.  Just say the word "poop" to a male of any age and he will laugh.  I have tested this with four of my nephews, a few of my brothers in law, my husband and my sons.  It doesn't matter how old or young, saying the word "poop" is an easy way to amuse any boy.  Girls, on the other hand, stop laughing around age 8.  After that they just think it's gross.  Of course, our findings would've been based on a randomized sample of random men, but I'm telling you, it's as concrete as XX and XY.  

Unfortunately, it turns out my kids are not only curious about science, but they are also totally boring.  My daughter chose a project about how sound travels through different "media" like water, air, plastic, and metal (or some such nonsense).  My son's project will evaluate the soil benefits of worm castings, which my son explained to me are just "worm poop".  And guess what happened next.  Giggling pile of little boy all over my floor.  Hypothesis proven.  First prize ribbon to me.

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Tooting my own pants.

I have another article featured on Divine Caroline.  It's the one I wrote about my niece's soccer game and is titled "Postcards From the Edge of the Soccer Field". It's on the front page, but you might have to watch for it for a minute because it flashes up in a series of featured articles.  It is also the featured article on the front page of the "Play" section.

I have to admit it's pretty cool, even though I suspect that it might be some kind of clever rouse to keep me going to their website rather than actual appreciation for the quality of my prose.  Oh well, at least I'm on to them.
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