Monday, January 09, 2006

The Post-Holiday Suburbial Nosedive

Is it Monday morning or am I hallucinating? Oh, we are DEEP in the heart of the post-holidays nosedive.

The weekend was a crazy blur involving an extremely ill-advised jaunt to “Hobby City,” a store near the gigantic Amish Farmer’s Market in the part of Montgomery County (where I live) that is still agricultural in nature. MZA said he needed to take Nick to "Hobby City" to get more supplies for the Pinewood Derby contest, upcoming in the exciting world of Cub Scouts.

Yes, that Uzbek husband of mine is now squiring his lad around for weights, primer, wood paint, etc. Then I made the critical error. I said, “Why don’t we all go?” Uh-oh. The minute I walked in the store I realized my error. There were tons of toys, cars, airplane models and then a whole THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE section. Ian is psycho for Thomas. P-S-Y-C-H-O.

So the whole time there was the Can-I-Have-That-Thomas symphony going on, braided with, “Can we go to Endonnells (translation: McDonald’s) for lunch?” over and over and over and over again. Then Nick dropping the Pinewood Derby kit box, MZA getting slightly apoplectic, “IF YOU LOSE ONE NAIL…” EnDonnells EnDonnells…Luftwaffe gray paint, flying tigers decals ($15). The paints, decals, weights and lubricant came to $47. That’s when you just hand the card over and chalk that puppy up to “Parenthood.” Whateverhood. My kid’s car is going to be good, DAMMIT. As in, if we cut corners now, with the Pinewood Derby car, WHAT DOES THAT SAY ABOUT US AS PARENTS???? MZA is not completely on board with this rationale. Because he is a little more normal than I am. Apparently.

Nick’s Pinewood Derby car is going to be a tribute to his grandmother in a way (hankie alert). It is going to be based on the P-51 Mustang that my mother used to fly as a WASP in WWII He is going to call his car the P-441 (the name of his Cub Scout pack) and the plane’s name will be the “Sweet Bernadette” after his school. One of the other dads carved his plain block of wood into the shape of a plane with a gnarly little rudder/horizontal stabilizer in the back. He’s really excited about it.

Sunday was SCOUT Sunday (are they all Scout Sundays? Am I not paying attention?) and I had the wicked brainstorm that I could just drop Nick off at church and not actually go in!!! This was a stroke of brilliance. Then MZA, Ian, Daisy and I all went to pick him up at church and it was off to:

Bad Feng Shui Playground. I hate this particular playground, but MZA likes it because it is bigger and offers more options. I hate it because it is badly situated, on this weird incline, and all the wood jungle gyms and mazes are so densely constructed that you have the semi-permanent feeling that your child has been abducted. You know, THAT feeling. And the ground, for some reason, is ALWAYS uneven—this time they were putting down mulch in some kind of half-assed frenzy—and so you’re always walking around panicked, with dry mouth, tripping over the uneven terrain, calling out for your babes, squinting into the relentless sun, and trying to detect their small forms amid the grey wood labyrinthian cages. It's great. Let's do a playdate there sometime soon.

I always get testy at this playground, and then am ready to leave, and MZA is NEVER ready to leave, and of course the kids aren’t—I try saying I have to go to the bathroom, I am hungry, um…I am ready to go. And he just looks at me and keeps catching them as they come down the inappropriately large slides squealing with happiness.

Daisy sat on the elephant sculpture, in the Flintstone-like wood car, on the camel sculpture…oh it was so fun! Why am I such a mean Mommy? I FINALLY prevailed and then Nick had to find the coats and down the slide 1…8…10 more times. We got home and I slopped up some grub. Babies to bed, Nick to Cub Scouts meeting, Ian doesn’t nap anymore so he played while I entered the post-holiday nosedive comfort movie-palooza. That would be Joan Crawford in The Women followed by Cary Grant and Doris Day in That Touch of Mink. Mommy sat on the couch, with the newspaper “nearby,” just in case, kind of knitting, while Ian built his Thomas the Tank engine tracks. Miss Daisy slept blissfully from 1:00 until 4:30. Nick and MZA came back from scouts and then on to Nick's first basketball game of the season!

Green curry tofu leftovers (better than it sounds) for dinner with fried Asian dumplings for the kiddies. More nosedive-palooza TV watching of Desperate Housewives, as MZA and I try and construct an all-American TV “routine” in our lives. Because we feel this is important. Then a fabulous “pastiche” episode of Grey’s Anatomy that was the best hour of TV I have ever watched in that I did not need to use even one molecular whisper of brain energy to swallow an entire season of a show whole. It was like eating a pre-digested smorgasbord. Yummy!

After dinner I coached Nick on his 3rd grade HUGE project—a biography of Alexander the Great. Nick has the best reading comprehension skills of anyone I have ever met. He read the biography of Alexander and retained the whole thing, basically--battle strategies, bloodlines-- and then distilled from all these fantastic conquests that Alexander was a merciful man. Nick, in his own words as Alexander, said, "I don't want to be remembered for my death. It's not just about me. I want to be remembered for the battles I won, the lands that I conquered and the loyalty of my army." That being said, he is not so good at staying commited to the whole process—because certain things come easily to him, he is not as intent as he should be on the follow-up (hmm, can’t imagine where he got that).

I helped him put together an outline and notecards. He was kind of dawdling and I, honestly, heard myself saying the following, “STAY ON MESSAGE! Theatre time is double time!” He tuned up to cry and got frustrated…wonder why with Attila the Hun running things. STAY ON MESSAGE. Then he delivered his monologue and it was fun. Way over the allotted time, but I guess Sam Donaldson won’t be there with an electric cattle prod to buzz him if he goes over the two minute limit…Maybe I missed my calling as a political handler?

And then it was 11:00 p.m. and then it was 5:00 a.m. Long discussion with self from 5:00 a.m. to 5:42 a.m. GET OUT OF BED. Hit the elliptical. Tsk tsked through the traditionally thin Monday Post. Had one delectable bite of Nick’s buttered sesame bagel. Back out the door, into the gray dimly lit morn. For the Beltway and the drive to Bethesda.


Cynicism is another word for reality

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