So many words, so little time....

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Birthday Song...

Every year since they were in the third grade my kids (more accurately, my daughters with some help from my sons) write a parody song making fun of me and how old/gray/geeky I am. It is referred to as my "birthday song". Every year my daughters perform it in front of everyone at the church Youth Group meeting that week and a written transcript of the lyrics is part of my birthday card. It's probably because of too much Smothers Brothers and Weird Al in the playlists while they were growing up or something.

Here's a short but memorable example of what I'm talking about from a couple years ago (sung to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic):
Mine eyes have seen the glory of Mom's hair turning gray
We have scraped at every nerve and put them on display
We've stomped on all her Halo skills and fragged her every day
and her hair's still turning gray....

It can seem mean written out like that but it's all in good fun, and they work on it for a good couple months leading up my birthday. They take it seriously and they all work together. I love that they make the effort and how creative they are with it. I do my part by pretending to be stung a bit because they'd be disappointed if I didn't, but it's really hard to hide the smiles.

Mostly they're from Disney songs or classic musicals like "You're Never Fully Dressed Without A Life", "At the Desk Where You Live", or a remake of the "Part of Your World" song from The Little Mermaid detailing all the computer crap I own and how I should go out to mall. There's a Muppets song in there, too.

This year's was a little more pointed to make up for the tear-jerker they hit me with last year when they reworked the song "I Loved Her First" from Heartland to talk about how they knew I loved them and how important I was to them even when they hadn't done their chores. The kids in the youth group thought it was hysterically funny but all the moms were a complete mess.

Even though they've outgrown the youth group and are busy with jobs and stuff they made the time to show up last night for the big performance, and I want to share it with you. Sung by both girls to an arrangement they did of the tune of a song from Disney's "Beauty and the Beast", here's this year's ode to my age.

Mom's As Old As Time
========================
Mom's as old as time
Both feet in the grave
Barely even sane
Broken in the brain
Dinosaur in a cave

Just a little strange
No reason or rhyme
Small and yet deranged
Never has she changed
Mom's as old as time

Ever just the same
Never a surprise
Ever as before
She's been through the war
Proof the dead will rise

Mom's as old as time
Queen of out-of-style
Simply not all there
Losing all her hair
Still has quite a while

Older than the sun
She shook hands with Zeus
Older than Optimus Prime
All her screws are loose

All that we have said
Is she's foggy in the head
Mom's as old as time

Take it as a sign
You're improving like fine wine
Mom's as old as time

There's no way to follow an act like that, so we had cupcakes and a couple rounds of dodgeball. And I'm a year older in my favorite way to measure it. ;)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

This Mother of the Bride Ain't wearing THAT!

I knew this wedding planning thing was going to be a project, but there are some odd things that are catching me flat-footed. Outside of the expected Charlie Foxtrots of guest lists (aka "Uncle WHO!?") and how to decorate a late 70's chapel into something that isn't so hopelessly retro without just draping the entire thing in tulle until it looks like we're trying to make sure no one catches malaria at the ceremony, I've run into something new.

It shouldn't have been a big deal. Now that the color scheme and a some other details are firmly established I started thinking about my dress. I have to be in the wedding pictures and I'm not good at that without a lot of prep. I went to several bridal sites to get an idea of what they thought was an appropriate getup for a December afternoon wedding.

This may turn out to be a mistake on the level of Napolean calling a rain delay on his third advance at Waterloo.

Please understand I'm not the kind of girl who dresses up a lot. I can do it - I have a couple of those perfect little black dresses and a couple pairs of killer heels. I just don't wear them while stringing CAT5 under people's desks and that's sort of my natural habitat. But you would not believe what I these people call a dress for the mother of the bride!

First off, my daughter chose some great colors that really fit her theme and the season: two shades of cool blue accented with silver. It's totally accidental, but I look awesome in them. I am not going to show up in any shade of "champaigne" (misspelling solely on the dressmaker) or chocolate or rose or "petal vermillion". Seriously ran into that color name. It was an unfortunate shade of pallid Pepto Bismol that would have been better termed "Pink Pearl" (as in the eraser). Someone obviously isn't too clear on what vermillion is. It is red, but it's tint is a reddish orange.

I've repressed the horror of the mass of tortured shantung that color was gracing/cursing entirely. The style of the dresses themselves are where things really get ugly. I mean uglier than grudging forgiveness. Judging by what's displayed in these bridal sites, my options seem to run between a sleek number from the Baroness von Schr├Ąder's Satin Cougar collection, the back rack of Cruella DeVille's closet, a castoff from Jackie-O's garage sale, or something dripping organdy flounces that would make you look like a pink, lacy Ringwraith. And they're bringing back JUMPSUITS, if you can believe it. Tony Tennille style with huge elephant leg bottoms. Straight off the Love Boat. Uh... no. Just no.

The best site I ran into is a company that sells women's suits of all descriptions, but has a section particularly designed for wearing to church. Think full-on Southern Baptist belle. There were some gorgeous clothes in there, and some even better hats. I wonder if Michelle Obama knows about it, because there is some stuff in there that would really do well for her. Unfortunately, I don't think we have a physical feature in common outside of our plumbing. I didn't see much there that would work for me off the rack. But I am keeping that one bookmarked and using it as inspiration for idea shopping as I start looking around.

I want something classic. Something tasteful. In a color you're not likely to find involved in a freak chemical plant accident or a compost heap. I'm thinking more along the lines of Lauren Bacall instead of an extra from "Golden Girls." We'll see how this turns out.

Now that I think about it, the rosy ringwraith is a mental image I have to loose before the wedding. If my prospective inlaw or my monster-in-law walks in wearing something like that I CANNOT even think it or I will end up saying it and I'm going to offend someone. And since I don't want my son giggling and referring to me as the Witch Queen of Angmar or Cruella theDev, I'm going to have to come up with another source for clothes advice than wedding sites.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Awkward Changes and New Beginnings...

I slog my way from the bus stop to the front door after a very long day, to be greeted by a barbaric yawp from the couch.

"Mom? Hey. How do I get my wife to go to bed with me?"

I stood there half in and half out of the door for a frozen second while my neurons wrenched themselves from mulling over the day's work troubles to full Mom-mode. But before my lips even parted for the string of questions lining up in my frontal lobes I caught myself. I remembered that I'd brought home Fable 2 the night before, and he had been home all day.

He had a big grin on his face. He'd probably been planning that particular heart attack for a couple hours. Once I could breathe again I muttered, "I guess I should be grateful one end is smart."

I asked him if he had a Condom (the game item) and he said he did, but he didn't want to use it. He wanted to start a family. Wince. I tried out what I remembered from the previous game. There were a few hilarious bad moves but that didn't get his horned and horny fellow where he wanted. We made a quick run to the bookstore across the way from the blacksmith's shop for some sage advice for the lovelorn and tried again.

A few fumbles and a decorous fade-to-black later, he got the predictable result of unprotected sex. After some thought and a couple rude suggestions from his sister who had put down her manga to see what the commotion was all about, he named the resultant house-ape JamesBond. I went to make dinner while he made farting noises over the cradle to make the baby laugh.

I didn't chose this little story because of the obvious morality play. For one thing, the kid in question is of an age where being married is a possibility (though I hope not to any of the current prospects). We long ago got past the embarrassment of any condom discussions and having to work out the game's corollary wasn't a big deal.

I know it can be hard to imagine when the when your kids are the age where the worst you have to worry about is watching your own language when they are blue-shelling you into eighth place again, there comes a day when when the conversations get a little more awkward. Once they're reach the M-rated age, you had better get prepared.

I feel like I've moved back in with my college roommates. I think back on those years and I remember all the stuff I saw and did. The all-night Talisman marathons running into the all-day D&D sessions. Drinking red Kool-Aid out of plastic skull goblets while plotting our way through our little weekly Elysium. The way a wooden practice sword stings your hand when you get in a good strike. I had this one friend who used to snort Vivarin and try to read religious materials upside down in between his turns in Axis and Allies. He was messed all kinds of up. For all my grousing I think this is an important stage of life. And for all my discomfort with parts of this, I wouldn't take away whatever they are doing to shape their stories.

When I'm stuck half in and out of the door with my jaw on the floor, I try to remember that no matter how awkward or embarrassing or shocking any one moment may be there will always be one just a little bit more so just around the corner.

Gaming parents in my particular place in life are rare beasts. Even with the self-selected older average age here, you guys are just starting your families. You're facing diapers and teething. My children are all 18 or older, and the youngest two just graduated from high school.

Or, to put it in proper terms, we raided Pomp and Circumstance. We got a tell from the last member of our group the day of the raid. We're no twinks, but we're buffed pretty good and I figured if we sheeped the trash between us and the Principal we should be able to pull the Superintendent without too much scraping. They drop the Ugly Acetate Armor, and in this school instance that's a Green item.

The post-raid wrap up had an even bigger surprise in store.

My younger daughter has been dating a young man for over six months now. Her brain is shut off as bad or worse as mine was when I was dating her father. After a couple months of dealing with her in this state, I actually called my mother and apologized for all the crap I put her through that summer after I graduated.

The big hurdle is she was still in school and he was out and I'm the kind of jackbooted fascist who insists on things like curfews and not hanging out unsupervised. After a few false starts and teary arguments, we negotiated curfews and various other lines in the sand. The biggest one of these being she had to graduate high school before anything went ANYWHERE.

But like all lovebirds, they wanted to be within arms reach every moment of every day. They solved the problem by him coming to the house every morning at 5am, her cooking him and her sister breakfast. Then after they've eaten he drove the girls to school. Then after school he'd pick her up and they'd spend every single second possible that they both weren't either at work or church together up until curfew. The day then usually culminated in coming back to the house for dinner and 15 minutes of goodbye-ing on the front porch with me standing awkwardly in the kitchen trying to decide if it was time for me to gently and politely remind them that it was time for him to head home.

Okay, sometimes I wasn't too gentle. After the fourth time I spoke up and they didn't even come up for air they both deserved it. But I respected the dedication on his part for getting up like that, and hers for actually learning how to do more in the kitchen than burn boiling water. I was very grateful that they returned the respect by following our agreements. And I can tell he loves her so very much.

The time they spent at my house told me a lot about their relationship. She fixes his car, and he buys her roses just because. There were a lot of afternoons alternating between Halo and Soul Caliber in the living room, depending on whose ego was most scorched at any given moment. He's better than her at FPS, but she's better than him at fighting games. When things got too tough on the one behind, they'd switch out. Conflict resolution skills are firmly in place there.

He's worked out a cautious truce with her twin, who at first was pissed off in a big way he was stealing her sister. The boys accepted him rather quickly, after a couple times catching them kissing when they were supposedly out there dealing with his balky headlights in the parking lot and embarrassing them.

I'd planned on surviving this week (which between graduation and my work has been a killer) and then sometime this weekend when the dust had settled sitting them down and finding out how we were going to do this from here on out. But my best-laid plans gang a-gley last weekend.

He asked me if he could talk for a moment so we went out onto the porch. And without further ado, he nervously asked me for permission to ask her to marry him.

While I was still standing there like he'd hit me in the head with a board, he launched into a recitation of the facts of the matter. He'd been planning this for months, but he'd waited until after graduation to do anything. He had bought her a ring and had been working to pay it off. And he'd already set his plans in motion to pop the question on their date already scheduled for the day after graduation. I just kept nodding while he talked and I tried to get two synapses on speaking terms.

I finally pointed out that I wasn't opposed to the match. And after we'd talked a moment, we agreed he'd better talk to the girl herself before we planned anything. When we went back inside, my sons asked him to have a little talk which I assume is going to be an expansion on the "you break her heart and we'll break your kneecaps" conversation they had already had.

For me, the intervening days have been spent trying to keep my head above water on the graduation front while keeping my mouth shut about the big surprise. And while I stand here in the server room at work watching this computer do it's thing, somewhere on a beach in Seattle my little girl is getting handed the first really big shock of her life. And I know in a few years, her own little ones will start throwing her a whole new set of awkward surprises.

I can hardly wait.