Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Where the Wild Things Are....

I was going to write this post last night, but then one of our neighborhood coyotes started yipping up a storm right behind our garage.  So instead of writing, I stood out on our side deck and listened to his barks echo all over the valley.  Until our up the hill neighbor opened his screen door and yelled, "SHUT UP!!!!"  Ahhh, nature lovers.  Although to be fair, its still a novelty to me; I'm guessing some day I'll see the coyote's howling as an annoyance on the same level as the puffy red squirrel who is constantly trying to get into my bird feeder.  At any given moment, I can be seen opening my screen door and lunging towards the feeder, waving a magazine and yelling "SHOO!!! Go away squirrel!! That food is for my birds!!"  Yes, my birds.  I own them.   I'm going to be an awesome old lady, with my birds and my cats.  My poor husband.

Yesterday morning as we were pulling out of our driveway, Ethan said, "Mommy, a deer!!" I slammed on the breaks afraid I was about to steamroll Bambi, even though my rearview camera showed no evidence of a deer, or anything else for that matter, in the green zone.  Except the cliff on the other side of the road from our driveway.  Yeah, there's a sheer-ish cliff right below our steeply inclined driveway.  Want to come over?!

"No, mommy, not behind the car, up there!"  Ethan pointed up into the brush/trees/rhododendron bushes that comprise our front yard.  Nope.  No deer.  "See?  His ears?" my eagle-eyed kid said and when I looked again, there it was.  So close, massive ears all perked up, just his face showing above one of the bushes.  He was just starting to get his antlers; they were nubby little things on his head, and his eyes were just massive.  Husband has also seen a spindly-legged, Bambi-spotted baby fawn recently as well.  And last week I caught a bunny hopping through our back yard.  I haven't seen the bobcat more than twice, which is kind of a bummer, because...well, you know me & cats.

In news of the more civilized and human kind, the kid is almost out of school--this time next week he'll only have one more full day??  I have to say, this year has been a rollercoaster for us, and I'm still not quite done being bitter about how Ethan (and Husband and I) were treated at his old school.  In talking to his new teacher, who's now had him in class for five months, I am certain more than ever that the old school was simply looking for a way to manage classroom behavior that required no effort on the part of the teacher.  His new teacher was shocked that they'd pushed so hard to have him evaluated at all, let alone medicated.  She assured me that in all these months, she's not seen one red flat that would have prompted her to suggest either.  This, after the old school sent him home early four days into school because he was "being silly," and was sitting us down to talk about a plan of action for evaluating and medicating our kid before the end of September.  Is it possible that he simply matured in that time and outgrew the sillies?  Sure.  Its also possible that the different structure of the new school is what he needed to be a successful learner.  Its also possible that he actually does have ADD/ADHD, but has clearly developed coping mechanisms at this new school that he was not given the option or the help to acquire in the old school.  Either way, he's happy now.  And he's learning, which the other school said he'd be utterly unable to do without medication.

This summer we'll be getting our Lego, Theater, Space & Tae Kwon Do camps on, as well as some trips to some places.  I tried to keep some of our time open, so we can do things like this hike we took on Sunday---

My boys are wicked outdoorsy 

There was a lengthy search for the perfect walking stick.  Husband and I were happy with Ethan's cast-offs. He is a very picky walking stick picker. 

We "discovered" what looked to be some sort of foundation stones off the trail.  Weird. 

Here I am, thinking we're taking a sweet mother & son photo. Seriously, how do I not yet realize that he's going to make a face 99.9% of the time?  

And again.  

I love me some trees.  Although the peaceful idyllic mood one generally associates with a hike through the wilderness, listening to the birds and the quiet hush of the breeze rustling the leaves was not quite our experience on Sunday.  No, this trail is on the other side of mountain highway from the local shooting range.  So, yeah.  Instead of hundreds of chirping birds, we heard hundreds of guns shooting hundreds of bullets at targets, about a mile away from us.  Constantly.  So, you know, super relaxing. 

 Stopping for a little z-bar, the hipster-pretending-to-be-a-hippie's choice in mid-hike snackage.  Also? When did he turn into a teenager?  

Tomorrow is Ethan's class play.  I've been furiously working to whip up signs to identify the characters and a program for the parents.  This involves a whole lot of scouring for clip art (which feels so mid-90's to me), yarn, construction paper and laminating machines.  I'm all kinds of volunteery.  Ethan is going to be a snake in his play, which is apparently called "Life Cycles."  He has to wear a white t-shirt, jeans and a pair of sunglasses.  He has been coming home for weeks boasting about how he's learned "all his lines" (probably a few words?) and that his teacher tells him he's the only one singing with "infection" (inflection, I guess?), so he's very proud of that, my little actor. 

So you're caught up on us.  Wild animals, gun hikes, and snake plays.  Its all good.  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sheering Time

Once upon a time, in the land of pre-three, Ethan had short hair.  When we lived in LA, I took him to this place in Studio City where the part-time kiddie stylist, part-time (possibly porn) actress gave him a kicky quasi-buzz (not really, but that's what it felt like to me) with just enough length in front to spike up and give it some ooomph (Ethan has been a fan of "product" for quite some time.) His hair dresser, Big Boobs McGee, used something called "Big Sexy Hair" in my baby's locks to give them some flip in front.  "Big Sexy Hair."   Here he is, still wrapped in the zebra cover-up, his hair newly shorn (and apparently big & sexy).

This was shortly before we headed up to the land of long haired dirty hippies, and I believe it was the last haircut he had with the goal of "short hair." Not long after this, the Beatles obsession kicked in hardcore and Ethan's attention and adoration turned to the long-haired version of John Lennon.  From then on, for the past four years, Ethan's hair has been somewhere between longish, long and very long. Usually when it gets to the point that its weighing down the natural body in his hair, we go in for a trim.  Just bringing up the length enough that its got room to grow long again.  Its always been his choice to keep it a certain length, no shorter.

Once or twice he's toyed with the idea of getting a Justin "Beaver" haircut.  I'll admit, those were the only times I attempted to sway his decision.  I mean, its just hair.  And its not my hair.  If he wants to get a ridiculous haircut, that's his right.  Except.  Justin Beaver's hair is just so so very terribly awful.  That weird forehead comb-over?  What is that? And then I thought about how his last hair style choices were based on his love of a legendary, zeitgeist-esque, cultural icon.  What if switching his hair to Beiber's style led to an equally long love affair with The Beib?  Gross.  A couple years ago he was kind of adorable and sweet, but he's getting skeevier with every passing day.  I didn't tell him he couldn't get the full-on Beiber 'do, but I did do some google searches to find other, Disney-er boy stars with current hair styles and was able to cash in on his love of Austin & Ally to convince him to get the far less comb-over-y, less structured "Austin."  So that was a relief.

Last week I watched him come up from the deep end of the pool, looking like a kelp-covered sea creature.  His water-logged hair fell down over his face to such an extent that at first I thought I was looking at the back of his head.  Every time he came up, he had to stop swimming to push the curtain of his hair back from his eyes so he could see where he was.  It didn't seem like much fun at all for him.  So on the way home, I said, "Hey buddy, I think it might be time for a haircut," casually glancing at him in the rearview mirror, his towel-dried hair a mass of rat's nest framing his face.  I saw an hour of my life, breathing in fumes from the hair-detangler and trying to tease the snarls from his hair.

"Yeah, I think I want it to be short for the summer.  Then I'll let it grow out in the fall again."  He said matter-of-factly.  "Can you make an appointment?"

So I made an appointment.  And I reassured myself that at the last minute, he'd decide he just wanted a trim, to hike the same style up a few inches to make the summer a little less sweaty for himself, and swimming a little less top heavy.  But I figured he'd pretty much forgotten about actual "short" hair.

Here he is on our drive to the salon.

And sitting in the chair--far less stylish wrap this time. Piggy banks, ponies, cowboys and aliens?  C'mon, pick a theme.  Oh, the hair.  So shiny and soft.  Sigh.

She started out by giving him a mullet.  It was a truly terrifying moment.

Not for Ethan, though, because thankfully he's been shielded from the concept of the mullet.  He thinks its hilarious.

Out of order, here's a picture of his bangs.  Don't you hate that awkward "growing out" stage?

Just. No.

He's oblivious to the bowl cut portion of the mullet.

What?  Who?  How?

And yes, the stylist gave him a lollipop, and then I took him out for Pinkberry.  Upon further reflection, perhaps that's why he was bouncing off the walls last night.  That, and he kind of fell in love with himself and his cool new short 'do.  He spent a good portion of the evening making faces at himself in the mirror.  And at me.  And the cats. And Husband.

Every time he walked into the room last night, I jumped a little bit, not recognizing him, and thinking some little intruder had snuck into the house.  He looks like a totally different person.

He did lament momentarily that when he's "rocking out" he won't be able to swing his hair around.  I reminded him how much easier swimming will be, to which he added, "also Jedi training will be easier because my hair won't get in my eyes while I'm battling Darth Maul."  Oh yes, that, too.

Sigh.  I'm hoping he keeps his promise to grow it back in the fall, mostly because I don't deal well with change, even if its just some locks of hair.  But he is seriously so adorable and seems so happy with his newly found lighter head, I think the days of the long haired hippie Ethan might be behind us.  Hold me.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

It Runs in the Family...

Ethan has taken to writing.  Before bed.  When he wakes up in the middle of the night.  On the way to school.  He's on his second "book," the first one being scribbled into a tiny gift-bag sized note pad, the poorly glued-together pages falling out and taped back in--the story of a library book that comes to life in his bedroom.  While it does sound all magical and I'm so proud of his initiative, using either the words "story" or "book" is a bit of a stretch, in the most forgiving, we're talking about a 7 year old here, kind of way.  The plot was discernible only because he told me what it was about as I was trying to decipher it. His spelling is soupr kreeativ and long words are smooshed vertically along the margins.  Words are spaced strangely so that entire sentences looklikeonelongsentence, and then there are individual words that l  o  o  k   l  i  k   e th   i s.  And punctuation?  Just no.   I'm pretty sure they're not studying e.e. Cummings in school, so I guess he comes by it honestly.

And that's fantastic.  I caught him erasing the other day and gave him a little mini-lesson in shutting up the editor when you're writing.  Don't worry about spelling or punctuation (clearly, he's got no problem letting go of the conventions of grammar and usage at this point) and don't judge your ideas; just let them flow.  "I will mom; I just thought I could make a better 'd.'"  His streak of perfectionism is very selective.

Last night, he upped his game, digging up a larger, spiral notebook with a pop-art looking Darth Vader on the cover.  He found an orange velvet-covered pencil. Yeah, that's what I said.  A velvet-covered pencil.  He declared it his "story writing pencil,"  announced that he was starting his second book, and disappeared to the upstairs, where the reclusive writer started penning his next masterpiece.

Periodically he would come to the upstairs banister and announce to whomever was listening in the family room below (me, possibly the cats), "I just finished chapter (insert whichever chapter he'd completed here)!" "That's awesome, honey! Have fun!" I'd yell back and hear his feet march back to his room, thudding the few steps it takes to get to the carpet on his floor.  Ten minutes of quiet and then, again at the stairs, "Done with the next chapter!!"  "Great! Can't wait to read it when it's done!"

I expected him to come down within the hour, book completed, beaming with pride, as he did the first one.  But apparently this second offering is far more in depth and time-consuming than his debut.  Perhaps he was feeling pressure after the wild success of his first offering, which was very popular with everyone in his family room--even the cats lifted their lazy heads and sniffed at the pages before casting aloof, slightly annoyed eyes around the room and then going back to sleep.  So at bedtime, he was still crafting his book.  This morning, in the car on the way to school, he was still writing.  I snuck a tiny peek last night while he slept (before he woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom--and write down an idea) and this book seems to come complete with illustrations as well as several chapters of who knows what (I'm sure I'll get a plot summary before being asked to give a review).

I'm fairly certain that in a few days time, he'll be back to constructing Ninjagos out of Legos and engaging in epic light saber battles in his playroom. And he'll go back to counting the years until he can get a job at Apple or Facebook and will pester me to download another game app where someone's jumping subway cars or playing iPhone sized skee-ball  (ah, life in  Silicon Valley). But for right now, I'm going to relish the sight of my kid emulating me, pencil and notebook in hand, creating characters (all named Ethan, natch) and stories of heroes and bad guys and magical library books.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Weirdest Identity Theft Ever...

You like the library, right?  Who doesn't?  Even though I own and have piles of books throughout the house, leaning like towers in Pisa, waiting to be read and love, or read and regretted, I cannot help myself.  The siren call of aisle upon aisle of free books is one I just can't resist.  So I guess its no surprise that a little over a year since getting my most recent library card, I recently noticed that it had somehow worn through the little plastic hole that keeps it attached to my key fob and fallen off, somewhere in the world, never to be seen again.   I took it as a sign that the universe wanted me to start working my way through a pile or two of my used book store purchases and forget about the library for awhile.

That is, until I opened my email one day a couple weeks ago to find a "notice of items due" email from the library.  What, now?  I hadn't been to the library in weeks, and as I clicked on the list of aforementioned items, I knew for sure that I hadn't been the one to check them out of the library.  The Lincoln Lawyer?  Um. No.  The Green Lantern?  Nope.  The Fantastic Four?  As if.  All week I thought, I have to get down to the library and sort this out.  Somehow their computer had made an error.  Then a friend of mine thought maybe we'd swapped library cards by mistake and they were her books.  Until I shared the titles with her.  Yeah, no.  Not hers.

So.  Some rando had found a library card on the side walk, or at a check out line or wherever, and decided to go shopping for some free books.  Weird.  But I noticed later the same day that I received an "items checked in" email from the library, so I chalked it up to someone mistakenly using my card and perhaps not even realizing it?  Or a glitch in the computer system?  I don't know, but I put it out of my mind as one of your garden variety oddities and moved on.

Until yesterday when I tried taking a few books out of the library.  Still working my way through my pile of books at home, but I took Ethan to meet friends and take out some books for him, and they had multiple copies of Gone Girl and Christopher Moore's new one, Sacre Bleu.  So clearly, the universe had sent me back to the library at a most opportune moment.   So I left my kid in the kid's room, reading a Barbie book to some little curly blond haired girl who was following him around like an adoring puppy and headed to the help desk.

When I went up to explain that I needed a new card and that my card had been used by someone else, I was greeted by "You have a balance of $59 on your account."  But.....but....rando library card bandit (heretofore referred to as RLCB) had returned all the items due, hadn't he/she? I got the email and everything.  The email I didn't read very carefully, apparently.   It seems that RLCB had returned a few of the checked-out-on-my-card items, but not all of them.  In particular, he/she had failed to give back The Fantastic Four and The Lincoln Lawyer, both of which happened not to be books, but DVDs.   Seriously.  Using a stolen library card to steal DVDs from the library.  This is a thing?!?

Now, I know that in the grand scheme of identity theft, this barely even counts.  Especially since the kindly older lady behind the counter all but clutched her pearls in horror when I explained what had happened. " Goodness, that's very disturbing," she empathized as she clicked through a few screens on the computer and then informed me that she'd removed the charges and closed out my account on that card and was that she was issuing me a brand new account number and card.  So Ethan and I were able to check out our Stars Wars, The Seekers, Gone Girl and Sacre Bleu without any fuss, with my new card.  No months of trying to clear my name, no financial ramifications or bad credit to deal with as a result.  Just a lingering feeling of ickiness.

It gives me the heebie geebies that RLCB thought to pick up a piece of bar-coded plastic and head to the library in search of things to steal.  From the library.  It takes a special kind of loser, my friends.  A very special kind of loser.

But anyway.  Now I just have to finish the book I'm currently reading (Case Histories by Kate Atkinson--great characters, a little slow on plot in my opinion, but that's kind of how I like it anyway) and then I'll be spending my weekend with Gone Girl.

Oh, Ethan.  Reading to the little blonde Shirley Temple.  Pure Cute.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Some Things...

First.  No big deal or anything, but what the ever-loving hell am I going to do with the rest of my life, people?  The kid turned 7 on Sunday; that means its been almost 7.5 years since I did....well, anything. At least anything professional-ish and career-like.  I have, to my credit, managed to keep an entire human being alive all that time, but you'd be surprised how little that counts for on a resume.

And its not even that my resume has a giant gaping hole in it (whatever, Sandburg,  I was "leaning in" to eating bon-bons and watching my stories--as if), it's that I really just don't know what I want to be when I grow up.  A few years ago when I lived in LA, a friend of mine who had married and had children "later in life" and taken a break from a high-powered corporate Hollywood position was sitting calmly at tea while our kids played, when suddenly she had what I can only assume was some sort of psychotic break and started rambling incessantly about how she was getting so old and no one was ever going to hire her again and that I couldn't possibly understand because I was younger and had been a teacher and you can always be a teacher and her career was so much better and more difficult and exclusive and she didn't have time for "this" anymore ("this" being friendship with anyone who couldn't help her get back into the industry) and poof! We never saw her again.

At the time, we thought she was kind of crazy (and really? dumping us so abruptly and vocally was, not only hurtful, but kind of crazy pants), but it turns out she just wasn't cut out for stay-at-home-motherhood and there's nothing wrong with that.  I've had 7 years of stay-at-home-motherhood and there are huge swaths of days when I think "man, I am so not cut out for this."  These days I find myself thinking about that friend and hoping that she's happy.  Its such a delicate balance and striking that balance is different for everyone, so what works for her is great for her.  More than anything, though, I'm a little jealous that she had a career to slide back into (and she really did slide right back in--her job search was short and she landed a sweet position and the last I heard, she was loving it.)

"Go back into teaching!" people say.  Sigh.  No, thanks.  First, there's the whole certification thing.  Mine lapsed years ago, and given the requirements in CA, I'd basically need a whole new degree to qualify for certification again.  I don't know if I love teaching anymore enough to devote that kind of time, energy and money into that particular degree.  Second, I can't bring myself to teach at another private school (the sense of entitlement--both kids and parents, the unhealthy competition between colleagues, the crap pay, the ulcers....) and I have no desire to teach in the public system (NCLB--enough said).  Its just not who I am anymore.

So then.  It brings me to the two ideas rattling around in the empty space inside my skull where my brain used to be.  A.) Actually try being a writer.  B.) Become a therapist/social worker.  I've been writing, in one form or another, since I was in 7th grade (I still have the journals chock full o' angst to prove it) and the only thing I ever really wanted to be was a writer.  I've tried to introduce myself to people as "a writer," but I always feel 100% phony and absurd, and end up back pedaling with "well, I've never published anything. I used to be a teacher, but I really like writing; not professionally or anything, just I've got a couple novels I'm working on and there's a blog...." and then I might as well have introduced myself with "Hi, I'm Sarah; I'm a blithering idiot."  And the therapy thing?  Well, lord knows I've been in therapy long/often enough to know how it can transform lives.  I have areas of interest and all that, but again, just like with the writing stuff, I feel kind of silly blathering on about it.  I can feel my brain cells screaming in agony as I type all of this because I don't know if I am cut out for any of it any more. I can whip up a Lego tie-fighter. I can bake rainbow cupcakes.  I can use a laminator and the photocopier at my kid's school (perhaps the only remotely marketable skill I currently possess).  Sigh.

Well, I had thought to write a lot more about my bright future career in SOMETHING FABULOUS! But now I've gone and depressed myself.  Perhaps I'll go write in my journal and call my therapist....

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Cinco de....Febrero?

In what would prove to be a shade of things to come, Ethan made his entrance into this world 7 years ago, over a month before his actual due date.  Apparently unable to wait for a wider and more adoring audience, he vacated the womb in the most complicated way he could come up with (starting labor with your cervix sewn shut? really special.), and began the next phase of taking over our lives without any thought for our sanity or our, we now realize, absurd expectations of getting any sleep whatsoever for the next year...or two (seriously, babies can be so inconsiderate).  I now believe he made his hasty entrance into the world not only because he needed more attention than he was getting while locked away in my one-trick pony uterus, but because Cinco de Mayo is a pretty kick-ass day to celebrate a birthday.   Really, you've got your 4th of July birthdays, which really rock, but unless he was going to be almost a month overdue, he had no shot at that.  Fortunately he stayed put during St Patrick's day, although I did spend that one in the hospital at "hotel high risk," so it would have been a possibility.  So really, in that time span, his best bet for a built-in party theme for the rest of his life was really limited to May 5th. Clearly, his hands were tied.

In years past, we've gone the Sesame Street, Disney, Beatles (?!), Star Wars route, but this year we were plum out of theme ideas (read: I didn't have the energy or desire to go through 6 hours of Pinterest searching for Martha-esque party ideas related to Jedi training or Magical Mystery Tours). So this year, we decided to keep it simple with an obvious Cinco de Mayo/fiesta theme and your basic old school BBQ.  I bought some cheap decorations from Party City and hung them from the trees in the picnic area, a couple packages of sacks for sack races and a traditional(?) burro pinata, filled with sugar and food coloring.  I whipped up cupcakes the colors of the Mexican flag (again with the food coloring) and cut watermelon into stars and flowers with cookie cutters (my one nod at Pinterest for this party).  We got hot dogs, sausages, chicken and corn on the cob for the grill.  I threw together a way too onion-y black bean and corn salad.  Bam! Instant party!

Family and friends fun!!! Yay!!!

And then we woke up on Sunday morning to fog.  And cold.  And because our party was going to be higher up in the mountains, it was going to be foggier and colder than our regular old fog and cold.  The entire week leading up to Sunday had been scorching.  Hottest week of the year so far.  We'd welcomed summer, as we usually do, right around the end of April, beginning of May.  Afternoons at the pool, cranking up the air conditioner, realizing that "I want a black car with a black leather interior!" was really a mid-January decision--all hallmarks of the coming sweltering months of a California summer.

Or maybe not.

I sent a note to our friends, letting them know that it was chilly up at the party site and that they might want to bring extra layers for the kiddos.

I wasn't kidding.  The mercury barely hit 50 all day up in the mountains and rather than fanning themselves in the heat of the afternoon and holding ice cold beers to their cheeks to cool down, most adults spent their afternoon huddled around the bbq pit or under blankets.

at least the blankets were colorful, though, right?  Festive!

The kids managed to have fun--

See?  They look like they're enjoying themselves?  Right?  Maybe?

Corn on the cob makes everyone happy...

My kid refused to put on long pants, even as his friends bundled into their scarves and sweaters.  But at least he put on someone else's jacket.

Ethan eyes the cupcakes while adults huddle by the fire.

After a quick blowing out of the giant "7" candle, and perhaps making a wish for warmth, we abandoned the cupcakes for roasting marshmallows.  Because, you know, fire and warmth and whatnot.

Sadly I have no sack race pictures because I was too busy laughing my ass off at the sack racing children and adults.  There was much flailing and ankle-twisting action.  It was fabulous.

A good time was had by all (most?), but I do hope that I can't see my own breath at next year's party.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

I just can't even...

March to May?!  ::hanging head in shame::  In my defense, I...oh, nevermind.

Well crap, guys. You know how marketers love to make commercials that use kids saying embarrassing things they've overheard their parents saying, and saying them at the most inopportune times, for maximum humiliation and mortification of the parents?  And you know how we laugh and laugh at those commercials and do our best Homer Simpson impression (he really is our Everyman, isn't he?) by looking at each other and saying, "its funny because its true!"

Yeah.  Its funny.  On TV.  In real life? Not so much.

It would seem that teaching my child the fine and subtle art of sarcasm at the age of five might have been just a smidgen ill-advised and premature.  An error in good judgment, if you will.  Also?  Allowing my child to see the inner beast of my true nature while I'm behind the wheel of a car?  Not smart. Also?  Driving with my windows down during stop and go traffic? Bad idea.

See, when I was a little girl, I was always very squirmy about driving in a car with my dad. My dad is a wonderful person in a million different ways--he's funny and kind and generous and loyal and a great dancer, and I adore him to the moon and back.  But.  Let's just say he doesn't suffer fools when he's driving.  And he's got a pretty loose definition of "fools" when he's behind the wheel.  Like, "anyone who's not him" loose.  An otherwise soft-spoken and non-confrontational man, he never passes up an opportunity to point out to the driver of the car in front of him the myriad of ways that person is an imbecile, dim-wit, and/or idiot who can't drive the speed limit, doesn't know how to pass appropriately or is otherwise decimating everyone else's otherwise lovely and pleasant driving experience.  In his defense, my dad is a fantastic driver, always has been.  I know of not one moving vehicle violation or accident, minor or major, that he's ever been involved in (knock wood).  But as a child, and a child who was (is) at heart a warm & fuzzy let's-all-just-get-along type, it always gave me serious agita to sit in the backseat and listen to my father snarl and curse under his breath.  This was the 70's and 80's--before the term road rage was invented.  But even then I told myself that I wouldn't get all ragey behind the wheel.

And yet.

I will say, I really do try to remember that everyone's got their own thing going on, and that me getting to where I'm going isn't everyone else's main priority.  The guy who blows past me when our lanes are merging might be on his way to the hospital for some emergency.  The person driving 10 miles below the speed limit might be driving their car for the first time after being involved in a car accident of some kind.  The person who's left-turn signal has been on for the past 10 miles might be in a rental and doens't realize that the car hasn't automatically turned it off.  There are million reasons that people might be momentarily lousy drivers.  And I try to keep that in mind and be gentle with them.  But really.  Some people are just dumbass shouldn't-have-passed-drivers-ed drivers, amirite?

Ethan seems to have not gotten my "stay quiet when the grown-ups are muttering under their breath and cursing people in the car in front of them" gene.  I don't know, maybe it skips a generation.  Rather than sitting quietly and chewing his fingernails to the quick while I encounter the aforementioned shouldn't-be-driving types, Ethan slides into the role of my comrade in arms--echoing my sentiments, sarcastic comments and all.  More than once (daily) he can be heard from the back seat sharply sucking his front teeth and exclaiming "excellent driving, buddy!!" before I even say anything; its like he anticipates my frustration and vocalizes it for me.  I'm not proud.  But I kind of am a little tiny bit.  But not really. (yes, I kind of am).

When he does it (again, daily), I take deep breaths and remind myself to be kinder and gentler to other drivers on the road--he is unwittingly my conscious. His mirroring of my sarcasm, while excellently delivered and perfectly timed (thus the pride), is a reminder that he is always watching, always absorbing, always picking up my habits and making them his own.  When he makes a scathing comment about another driver, I take a deep breath and apologize to him for being such an impatient driver and ask him to try to have more patience, too.

But today.  Oy.  It was the perfect storm of circumstances that could only mean that I was bound to be humiliated and mortified, in a reaping what I've sown, getting what I deserved kind of way.

We were running late.  Something about socks and shoes (both mysteriously missing from their carelessly strewn in the entry way location from the day before--note to self: expect chaos on mornings after you've tidied up as the men in the house are unaccustomed to finding things where they actually belong), and a hot lunch versus packed lunch "discussion" that set us behind by a few minutes.  No big deal.  Plenty of time to get to school.

Or one would think.  But one would be wrong.  Because one forgot to take into account the crossing-guard.  The crossing guard who hates all people in cars and wants them to be late. Who doesn't love a crossing guard?! A human gateway to elementary school, in safety-orange.  A human lighthouse, if you will, with a stop-sign on a stick. I have distinct memories of hugging my first grade crossing guard every afternoon, mid-crossing, and feeling so glad she was there to usher me safely across the big scary road (nerd).  So I've got nothing but respect for the lady in the orange vest.

But omg, someone needs to give this lady a flow-chart or something. Anything to help her manage the constant stream of pedestrians and drivers bearing down on her at any given time.   Totally getting that her number one priority is the safety of the children making the long perilous sojourn through the cross walk, one would think that there could be some way of balancing that objective with the concept that parents driving their kids to school also want their kids to get to school before lunch time, and the drop off line takes roughly a quarter of an eon to get through as it is.

Ms Crossing Guard has a habit of running out into the road and stopping traffic at the slightest hint that a pedestrian is somewhere on the block and approaching the hallowed cross walk.  Each and every pedestrian gets his or her own safe passage, which means Ms Crossing Guard is often walking back to her station on the side walk and then abruptly turns around and blows her whistle again, stomping back into the center of the road again, leaving all the cars exactly where they were before she went out into the road the first time.  I have seen the driver of the car at the other stop sign eyeing me in what I can only assume was some attempt to message me like a coach signaling his runner to go ahead and steal 2nd at the first available opportunity.  We drivers have to stick together.

Never has a pedestrian been asked to "wait right there" for a moment while the two lanes of traffic take turns moving ahead past the cross-walk.   Never has she waited for 2-3 kids to pile up at the side walk before letting them cross as a group, thus allowing 2-3 cars to make it through to the drop off line.  Today I counted FIVE full out-and-back-and-out-and back turns through the cross walk before she let one car go through, and then went back out into the cross walk to wait for one kid who wasn't even at the cross walk yet...

I might have been drumming my fingers on the steering wheel.  Its possible I sighed heavily.  I might have said "any time!" impatiently, under my breath.

Cue humiliation and mortification in 3, 2, 1....

As Ms Crossing Guard came back to the side walk and it was my turn to inch through the cross-walk, Ethan piped up with "Oh, I guess we're not invisible after all, Mommy!" With his window open, right as we coasted by the lady.

::hanging head in shame::

I have no way of knowing if she heard. Or if she did hear, if she had any idea that Ethan was referring to our lengthy wait behind the stop sign as the first bell rang while she stood in the middle of the road waiting on kids half a block away.  But I still felt my face flush hot with embarrassment and guilt at my own inability to hold my tongue in these situation.  We spent the 4 minutes in the drop off line (wow, I guess its really not a quarter of an eon after all...deep breaths, perspective and all that jazz), talking about how the crossing guard's job is to keep the walking kids safe and a minute or two here or there in our day is no big deal, its just more time we get to be together before we say goodbye for the day, and that mommy will practice being more patient if Ethan will, too.  We talked a bit about how sarcasm can be hurtful rather than funny and that we both have to be careful with how we use it, even if it does make us giggle because getting a giggle isn't worth it if we hurt someone else's feelings.

Starting the day with a big fat momFAIL.  I win.  Tomorrow I think maybe we'll park a block away and walk to school, through the crossing guard's territory.  Maybe we'll pick some flowers for her. And get to school on time while those suckers in cars wait. and wait. and wait.