Monthly Archives: February 2018

Drowning in a Sea of Love

Once, Valentine’s Day was something to celebrate. Then it turned into something to mess up. Now it is something to dread. Truly. Dread.

And this time, it’s not my fault for coming up with intensely complicated Valentine’s project. I’m no dummy–It only took me three years (Count them: one, two, three) to just go to Party City and buy a box of fun size* bags of Skittles with heart stickers. I learn from my mistakes, eventually.

Nope, not my fault. This year, I blame the Cub Scouts.

You see, they are the ones who schedule complicated yet compelling activities on what would otherwise just be a night spent raiding the kids’ candy bags for those white conversation hearts. Once we pledged our banners** to this band of brothers, we also lost our Wednesdays. And pretty much every other Saturday. And the tips of my fingers  from sewing on all these participation badges.

To be fair, the scouts’ worst sin is this: They’re on the East Side. And the Fun Apartment and all its inhabitants are on the West side. Non New Yorkers are now wondering “Hey, how bad could that be? You live on a skinny island, after all.” New Yorkers, meanwhile, are shuddering in sympathy with me. Yes, there are ways to move across the island skinny-ways, but none of them are fast, convenient, cheap, or user-friendly.

And so, on this day for celebrating all the loves of your life, the Cub Scouts scheduled their swimming event. In three shifts. And we were the first, and the third. And they needed me, who gets really cold, really quickly, to get in the pool with the first shift. And the Man of My Dreams needed to work late. Ah, romance! Really, what woman wouldn’t choose to spend Valentine’s Day shivering in a pool with 45 boys under 10?

All of this means that there was a race to collect the children and leap onto a bus that crawled across town to a location so far east that I began to wonder if they’d be swimming in the river. Then two of us splashed into the pool. As chaperone, I did not have very much to do besides stand in chest deep water, try not to get kicked and wonder how far one’s body temperature has to plunge before hypothermia sets in. By the free time portion, I was slurring my words.

And it went on like this until 9:30, including a lot of splashing, polo (water and Marco), a  dinner of Z Bars and my standing outside a locker room hollering the kids’ names with one hand covering my eyes (The Cub Scouts, after all, have a reputation to uphold. . .) and assuring them when they came out shrugging that yes, they had in fact come wearing pants.

But these kids? These kids had FUN. To them, this was an ideal school night activity. It could not have been a more perfect day. Even racing after a bus pulling away without us was all part of the general hi-jinks of the thing.

“Well, that was love,” I told myself, as I finally sat down, my knuckles white around the wine glass and box of conversation hearts, my circulation finally restored. “And this is how I show these yahoos that I love them. Through my %$#@ing actions.”

And love it is. The exhausting kind. But also the important kind.

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*Skittles and I differ greatly on what constitutes a “fun” size.

**Once you start reading Game of Thrones, you don’t stop, apparently.

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Filed under Mistakes I have made, Not cool, Mommy

Ready for some football

Once, we lived in a castle at the top of a beanstalk. Another time, we were overrun by dinosaurs. We were slaves to Pixar in the “World above Cars.” We drifted in and out of staterooms on the Titanic, miles below the surface. We built a place on the outskirts of Lego City. We lived long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away.  You see, at the Fun Apartment, we don’t just like things. We LIVE them. These kids drill down deep.

And now, we live at Lambeau Field.

The latest Fun Apartment obsession is Green Bay Packers football. (Really, is there any other kind? I’ve not heard of it.)

That’s right, these boys bred in our tiny matchbox live, eat, breathe, and (occasionally) sleep a sport that requires 120  yards to play it properly.

To be fair, I opened the door to this by letting them watch Packer games with me and teaching them what I could about the game. But it didn’t take long before my admittedly casual knowledge was outstripped and they were explaining things to me. Really, how was I to know about the “no forward passing past the line of scrimmage” rule?

And this new love of football incorporates other favorite activities: wrestling! and tackling! And because we live in New York City and it is winter, most of these games happen indoors. Happily, being knocked to the ground can only improve most of our possessions. Or we play in short spurts in our neighborhood playground. That was where I earned my five game suspension for chop blocking. (I did feel very badly about the fat lip. But it went away in a few days.)

It’s changed our discipline game around here, as well. Now transgressions like using our bodies to hurt or not being a kind brother earn the accused received a ten yard penalty and it’s an automatic first down for the injured party. Oddly, this is way more effective than the traditional time out in the bathroom. I just have to carry around a yellow flag.

That’s right folks, it is football all the time around here. They are never off the field. Many games occur on the sidewalks of 8th avenue—which is way better than those corporate dome stadiums. And the beer is cheaper.

Because we never bothered with cable or any other complicated TV business, we often end up watching the game in our local watering hole around the corner, where these guys have become regulars. Once a Buccaneers fan offered to watch them while I ran across the street to switch the laundry. It takes a village, people.

When it’s not game on, it’s still go time. Yesterday I caught the Quarterback standing in the middle of the living room, well middle of the whole apartment, really, with one arm raised in the air. “Umm, what are you doing?” I asked. “Practicing holding the Vince Lombardi trophy,” he answered as if it were the most obvious of answers. Such thoroughness is to be admired.

Another favorite part of these games: instant replay. That is when they decide that something about the play has gone wrong, so they must play it out again. So they do it again. r . . e . . a . . l . . l . . y     s . .l . . o . . w . . l . . y. This is how they do it in the NFL, right?

There is also commentary, which, though influenced by game announcers is still very kid-like: “Here’s the snap and pass is caught by my brother in the most best play ever!”

One side effect of watching too much football is that these kids can now pretty much recite ads for trucks they are too young to drive, insurance they don’t need, food they won’t eat, beer they can’t drink, shows they aren’t allowed to watch and internet service that they don’t understand. Way to hit the demographic sweet spot, advertisers. Money well spent, I’m sure.

There’s an awful lot more testosterone around here, too. I mean I know I’m surrounded, but it hasn’t been quite so locker room-like before. Now, when these yahoos celebrate anything, say correctly identifying their own socks, they throw out their skinny chests and thump them.

However, this was not the ideal year to embrace fandom. Aaron Rodgers’ broken collarbone stunned us all. And the meager offerings the rest of the season gave some insight into what being a Packer Fan in the 1980s must have been like. Still, the future quarterback and wide receiver remain undaunted. And the weekly requests to relocate to Titletown persist.

(Hey, I bet we could get a huge place there. After the Fun Apartment, any average-sized Wisconsin home would feel like Lambeau Field to us.)

What’s funny about this latest obsession is that our entire apartment, including all the fun, would fit inside the area on a field between the zero and one yard line. And yet, this has not affected the scope or scale of these kids’ ambitions. To them, every pass is a hail mary, every run is 80 yards, every kick is into the wind, and every game is the super bowl.

You are all welcome to join us at the Fun Apartment’s Super Bowl party. But you have to sit on our bed to watch the game. And our tv screen is a whopping 14 inches wide.

And after the game is over, we won’t be mourning the end of the season. We’re still playing. There’s no offseason at the Fun Apartment.

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Filed under Living Small, The outside world