Reptile Rage-O-Rama

28 02 2009

The vivid red, yellow and black bands of a Coral snake warn predators that this serpent means business. Deadly, venomous, fuck-with-me-and-I’ll-pump-you-full-of-neurotoxin-and-paralyze-your-lungs type business. I know this because of the little write-ups on the tags that came with the not one, but two,  Coral snakes we now own. The creatively named Venom and Coral. Venom and Coral came all the way from some cheap plastic crap factory in China, to the merchandise table at the moderately priced family fun-o-rama known as Little Ray’s Traveling Reptile Show. Which just happened to be traveling near us this weekend. So, after a week’s worth of dangling the flyer for Little Ray’s Reptile Show in front of Neener and Roo whenever it was time to clear the table, or get ready for school, or stop a “You’re a Boy!/No I’m not! Yes you are! No I’m not!” argument , Mr and I made good on our promise this morning. Because apparently, we are sadists.

I could write about how we showed up right at nine o’clock because Neener and Roo were desperate to get the as-advertised “Free Chomper Toy for the first 100 kids.” Then I could write about how Neener and Roo had absolutely no idea what a Chomper Toy actually was, and how that didn’t matter because it had the words Free and Chomper and Toy in bold print on the flyer.  And how within minutes of receiving the Free Chomper Toys, the novelty wore off, and the Free Chomper Toys became More Stuff for Mom and Dad to Carry. I could also write about Mr.’s unsung act of heroism. How he saved the crowd of drenched parents and screaming children from spending even longer in the howling wind and driving icy rain, by insisting that the khaki-clad kids collecting the cash let the frozen families line up inside the building instead of out. And how the crowd repaid Mr.’s use of his common sense for their common good by butting in front of us, to make sure that their two-year olds got a chance to not care about seeing an alligator. I could write about Neener darting around the big, busy room like a hummingbird that fed from a can of Red Bull, and how she used her Chomper toy to collect wood chips from the tortoise display. Or Roo’s desperate attempts to get her hands on the long, carrot coloured braided hair of the Iguana handler, and her fascination with the Taiwan Beauty snake. Or Squiggle’s mysterious conversation with the Great Horned Owl. Or how Mr. and I experienced the surrealism of eight feathery tarantula toes dancing across our hands. But those are the pleasant little details that, while cute and amusing, would make me yawn after a while if that was all I had to write about. Me, I’m all about the drama. And God knows that the Blister family can not set foot in a place like Little Ray’s Traveling Reptile Show without some sort of drama.february09-141

Which brings us back to the Coral snakes. Venom and Coral. Fifty-one minutes and twenty-three bucks later, we were all more than ready to get the hell out of Little Ray’s Reptile Fun-O-Rama. The crowd had doubled in volume, tripled in pushiness, and our collective patience had been slashed in half and divided by five. And that’s when Neener and Roo discovered the merchandise table, crawling with stuffed frogs and iguana puppets and toy tarantulas and rubber snakes. So I cut a deal with them: I would loan them the money to buy something but they’d have to pay me back from their piggy banks when they got home.  Sure, they said, no problem. Roo, having already thoroughly mauled every item on the table, settled on a Coral snake. And when Roo decides  she wants something, that’s it. That snake will be her best friend until some other carefully chosen object is deemed worthy of her long meandering narratives. Neener, on the other hand, is more subject to impulse. To making decisions without thinking them through. To wanting for the sake of getting. To doing things that she regrets moments later. And so was the case with her Coral snake.

As Mr. went to get the van, the girls and I waited inside. It was then that Neener decide that she did not want the Coral snake after all. That it was boring. That this would be a good time to have an all out meltdown. All the way into the van and out of the parking lot, she screamed, she stomped, she yelled. We tried speaking to her in calm controlled voices. We tried speaking to her in not-so-calm, not-so-controlled voices. We distracted, we threatened, we guilted, we reasoned. Nothing could bring Neener back to rational. So, we did something that goes against all logic in such a situation. We stopped at Tim Hortons. And we did what is known in the behaviour management business as “Precipitating a Crisis.” Coffees for Mr and I , and a powdered jelly donut for Roo. And nothing for Neener. Which resulted in a sharp escalation of screaming and yelling, and the almost-amusing addition of  Neener whacking herself in the forehead, and snarling, gnashing, and clawing at the air like a very, very pissed off tiger. Which continued more or less unabated until we got home, at which point she was sent directly to her room, where she could be heard wailing ” But I’m gonna starve to death!” and “Nobody cares about me!” and “Everybody in the whole world gets all the treats and I don’t get anything except bossed around and told to go to your rooooooom!” And once the screaming died down to sobbing, I went upstairs with a banana and a glass of water to seize this teachable moment. We talked about everything Neener could have done differently at many points, from thinking more carefully about what she wanted to buy, to positive self-talk, to ways of calming down after freaking out, to the futility of whacking one’s self in the head. And when I say we talked, I mean that we talked. Not that I talked and she listened. That approach doesn’t work now that Neener knows what the word lecture means, and is not afraid to point out when a lecture is in progress. And I think that by going the non-lecture route, and by going downstairs and writing down some of the things we figured out, she might get it. She might be able to put the experience to use in her often tumultuous daily life. If not, I’ll have to consider precipitating the crisis even further next time something similar happens. And instead of hiding in my office to eat the donut we got for her just in case she pulled herself together enough to deserve it, maybe I’ll eat it right in front of her. The vivid powdered sugar and lemon jelly bands around Mommy’s donut-filled mouth tell fit-throwing children that their mother means business. Serious, dragon mama, throw-a-fit-at-me-and-I’ll-eat-your-donut-and-lecture-you-until-your-ears-fall-off-like-lizard-tails type business.

Now, Venom and Coral and the Free Chomper Toys have been lovingly pitched into the junk pile in the basement. Neener’s freak-out is as good as forgiven and forgotten, but I’d like to think a lesson will stick with her beyond today. We have some cool pictures of our morning at Little Ray’s Reptile Racket. And I have a new appreciation for this morning’s little details: tarantula feet, rubber Coral snakes, donuts-as-a-crisis-precipitation tool, and the improvisational parenting of my never-boring children.


Loose Ends

21 02 2009

You know how when you were in university, and you skipped a few Sociology, or maybe German, or even Old English classes a few weeks in a row? And you knew you really should go back, so you promised yourself I’ll go next week? But then you got all freaked out that the prof would ask where you’ve been, or embarrass you in front of the rest of the class, or there’d be a test or an assignment due,  so you had a series of panic attacks, and the mere thought of that class made you want to yank your eyebrows out. So instead, you went out with your slacker friends, and self-medicated the anxiety about Sociology/German/Old English with cheap draft/donair subs/skunk weed. And, as your fear of walking into that class began to border on phobic, you convinced yourself that you were way too far behind and you probably couldn’t catch up so there was really no point in ever going back to that class again, so you just didn’t. Then, you ended up flunking or near flunking that class that semester and had to take it again the next year, or maybe even make it up in the summer, all because you slacked off a little bit and then psyched yourself out a whole lot. Remember doing that kind of thing? No? No. Me neither. Nope. Not one bit.

But all of that is a round about way of saying that , yes, I am keenly aware that I’ve been slacking on the ol’ blog front again. And because it feels like it has been forever since I’ve posted, I’ve been a little nervous about getting back on my proverbial high horse.

Anyhow, in order to get back into the swing of things, I feel like I need to tie up some loose ends for you, my dear readers. I’m sure you’ve been dying to know what happened at Squiggles’ pediatrician appointment, tossing and turning in your beds at night, wondering if Operation Beefcake was a success. And what about Ol’ Chomper and Lumpy? Are they still peacefully co-habitating in my mouth? Did Neener chop anybody’s arms off yet? How did the school react to the revelation that Roo is, in fact, a smarty pants? Read on…

Operation Beefcake

First, the appointment was supposed to be in late January. Then, it got moved to mid-February.

The good news: Squiggles gained a pound in two months, and she has learned to pull herself up to stand.

The bad news: That’s not enough weight, and when she stands, she stands weird.

So, Operation Beefcake continues, now with added butter, gravy and cream. We’ve also been officially referred to a neurologist, as well as the Autism clinic, and we took Squiggles in to have blood drawn for a slew of metabolic and genetic testing. Good times, good times.

Chomper and Lumpy

The mystery of Lumpy’s origin has finally been solved. After more dentist appointments, more x-rays, more drilling, more filling, more humming and hawing, and finally paying another $600 to see a specialist, it turns out that Lumpy is not just Lumpy. Lumpy is the result of the snapped-off tip of a dental file jabbed up past the root tip of my tooth, for which I’d need a procedure that involves paying $600 to have a specialist slice my gum open, gouge out the file piece along with a hunk of of my tooth root, then stitch my gum back up. Which is exactly what an un-insured, underemployed writer with a serious aversion to gum stitches wants to hear. But, piss-assed broke oral-surgery-a-phobe slacker that I am, I asked the question: What happens if I just leave it there?  The reply? Well, nothing. Ol’ Chomper will continue to feel weird, but nothing will actually happen. Except we’ll save $600 that we don’t have anyway. And there will be no slicing, gouging, or stitching. And, I’ll have to change Lumpy’s name to File-O.

Done. Welcome to the family, File-O. I look forward to having you be a constant source of minor annoyance. At least until we can afford some insurance, and I can talk myself into setting foot in a dentist’s office again.

Neener the Arm-Chopper-Offer

Ever since I convinced Ms. D to make some seating adjustments so that Neener was not sitting directly across from evil incarnate, there has been no more talk of bringing bats and/or swords to school for show and tell. There has, however, been some talk of Neener seeming suspiciously Asperger-y. So, there’s another batch of paperwork, another round of phone calls and meetings, and another referral to the Autism clinic. The clinic coordinator and I are already on first-name basis because she now has files on all three of my kids. Did I mention how much fun all that is? Good times, good times.

Roo the Smarty Pants

Since I don’t yet have the report in hand, I have not yet had the distinct pleasure of prancing it down to the school. But I did  let them know that their guesstimate of her grade one or two reading level is waaaaay off. To which they more or less responded, “Well, that’s great. So let’s work on getting her to use ‘appropriate’ body positioning and eye contact when she speaks to someone, and teach her to ask to go to the bathroom instead of shouting ‘I need to pee!’ before running out of the room. ” Which are noble goals. However, I have been bitten by the neurodiverity bug, and I’ve developed a raging case of Autism Acceptance, so I’m not exactly sure I can just go along with the “let’s-try-to-make-Autistic-kids-look-and-act-as-normal-as-possible” plans that well-meaning school teams tend to conjure up. Ahhh, but there is too much to this whole thread of our lives to start unraveling right now. That is a post for another day.

There, you are all caught up. And I’m sure you can see why I’ve been a little preoccupied these last few weeks. Why I’ve been a little irregular. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned since my university days, it’s that hiding from commitments and responsibilities – even something as casual as this little blog – rarely gets you where you really want to be. Unless where you really want to be is passed out on your slacker friends’ couch with a gut full of mystery meat and watered down draft, and bits of skunk weed in your hair. Been there, done that, got the D in ye Olde English to prove it.

But now,  as a writer, a mother, and as a mature, functional human being, I am pretty adept at putting pressure on myself to do things that I either want to do, or just know that I should do. Like writing a blog post. Or starting running again after a six month hiatus. Or shaving my legs and armpits. But it is still an incredibly delicate balance: not enough self-imposed pressure, and nothing gets done because I’ve managed to rationalize my self into inaction. Too much self-imposed pressure, and my eye starts twitching, my hands go numb, my gag reflex gets all uncontrollable, leading me to walk around looking and sounding like I’m about to barf, and I wind up paralyzed  into inaction. Or, at the very least, just hairy and out of shape, with a nasty case of  writer’s block, as the case has been of late. But when I get that self-imposed pressure level juuuust right, I can get beyond fear and insecurity and do what needs to be done. I can use that pressure to turn life’s little lumps of coal into diamonds.Or, to pull off a B in Sociology despite only going to the class twice and writing the mid-term stoned as a peach tree. Remember doing things like that? Nah, me neither.

Squiggles’ Prayer

17 02 2009

february09-001“Our father, who art in the kitchen, Daddy be they name. Thy bottle come. My will be done. Right now because I’m a baby. Give me right now, my freakin’ baba, and don’t forget to change my diaper. Lead me not to my crib, but deliver me from my sisters. For mine is this living room. The power and the glory. Forever and ever. A-baby.”

UU and Us

11 02 2009

The Blister family has done something completely outrageous. Something so totally out of character that frankly, I’m a little shocked, even though it was my idea in the first place. We’ve started going to church. That’s right, all of us except the fish and the cat, who are staunch atheists. And church. As in getting brushed and washed and dressed every Sunday morning to go listen to a choir sing hymns, and a reverend deliver a sermon while the kids go upstairs to the Sunday school room for stories and songs and snacks. But this is not just any church. It’s the Universalist Unitarian Church.  A.k.a the UUC. It’s the only church we could really picture ourselves having any involvement in because the UUs are pretty much dogma-free, and very much interested in celebrating the human spirit and improving the human condition. It embraces social justice, social advocacy, science, philosophy, spirituality, and intelligent debate about God and mankind and the existence of both. It’s also the only church that might have us because they are all about tolerance and acceptance. And trust me, if there’s any family who can test a church crowd’s capacity for tolerance and acceptance, it’s us.

Any new foray into public is an intensely nerve-wracking experience for all of us. Especially me. And any new forays into public  that require all three of our children to  a) sit semi-still and listen quasi-quietly, b) interact with a bunch of strangers in a busy, unfamiliar place without looking in anyone’s purse, grabbing anyone’s boobs, or asking every single person what their name is and how old they are, and c) keep the nose picking, road salt eating, microphone grabbing, random-word-yelling, crying, screaming and explosive pooping to a minimum is an exercise in insanity-provoking futility. For all of us. Especially me. So why the hell would we voluntarily subject ourselves to just such a situation on a weekly basis? Because we all need it. Simple as that. Neener and Roo need the practice. Practice in the give-and-take-of conversation, in listening and speaking politely. Practice controlling their impulses. Practice being part of a group. They need the type of education that the UU Sunday school provides. The month of February is devoted to learning about earth-centred religions. They’ve heard the Mi’kMaq story of how our continent was born. They’ve sung songs about respecting and loving Mother Earth and all creatures great and small. And later this month they’re going to learn about Pagan celebrations and Wiccan traditions. Squiggles needs to see other babies, and to stack new blocks, and to chew on new toys every now and then.  Mr. and I need a place to explore our own ideas about spirituality, morality, mortality. To think about and talk about what we believe and why. Our whole family needs a sense of community, a sense of belonging, a sense of who we are and what we can do and be in the world. But none of that will come easily to us.

This Sunday was our second trip to church.  Mr. stayed downstairs for the church services – an enlightening, eclectic mix of music and sermon and conversations on everything from the dark side of our souls to Darwinism to the parallels between the human brain and the galaxy. Meanwhile, I escorted the kids to the Sunday school class, and subsequently spent that time fighting back tears, trying not to look like I was embarrassed out of my skull, wanting nothing more than to run away from that room full of pleasant strangers and back to the solitary, predictable sanctuary of our home. Back to a place where it doesn’t matter if  Neener freaks out because someone misspelled her name or because the apple juice is a different brand than she’s used to. Where it doesn’t matter if Roo doesn’t speak when spoken to, or can’t resist playing the piano during story time. Where Squiggles is the only baby, so I don’t notice how different she is from other babies her age. Back to a place where I don’t have to explain twins, or autism, or CP, or anxiety, or hyperlexia, or gross motor delays to strangers who , no matter how pleasant,  probably can’t help but think: bad, lazy, rude, inattentive kids come from bad, lazy, rude, inattentive parents. But running and hiding and crying won’t do a lick of good. Instead, if we are to get what we need from this whole church experiment, I’ve got to start conversations with these pleasant strangers. Get to know them, and let them get to know us. And in that process, explain. About autism. And CP, anxiety, hyperlexia, gross motor delays. About Neener and Roo and Squiggles. About us. All in the hopes that we will be met with understanding. Tolerance. Acceptance. Maybe even love.

Such conversations are not easy to have. Especially when every moment spent in the company of new people in a new place requires running near-constant damage control. Roo, get away from the piano. Neener, it’s ok, the apple juice will taste pretty much the same. Squiggles, sshhhh. Roo, don’t touch, Neener stop interrupting, Squiggles, sshhhh. Roo-get-that-out-of-you-mouth-Neener-calm-down-Squiggles-stop-yelling-cat!-cat!-cat!-there-are-no-cats-in-here-and-can’t-you-see-I’m-trying-to-have-a-conversation-with-these-strangers-to-explain-that-I’m-not-somekinda-hyper-vigilant-stressed-out-freakazoid-mother! It’s a slow process. But, I managed to mention Roo’s autism about mid-way through our first morning there. Had to get that one out of the way early for the sake of the  Sunday school teacher. And luckily, she had pretty much recognized it before I even opened my mouth. Which was a huge relief. And with that knowledge, on our second day, she welcomed Roo with open arms, but without the expectations of typical behaviour and communication, and the judgment that so often follows when those expectations are not met. But then, the older gentleman who came to talk to the kids about the beliefs of the Natives, approached me after the Sunday school class. I was panic stricken when I saw him walking toward me. Neener had interrupted his story several times and couldn’t keep her hands off his feather collection and turtle shell. Roo kept trying to play the drum he brought, and rolled all over the sacred ceremonial blanket. With her boots on. Meanwhile, I frantically bounced around the room trying to keep Squiggles from crying, and alternated giving Neener the I’m Warning You face, and hissing the word behave in her ear, with giving Roo the Oh Jesus Not Again face, and hissing the words stop it at her. I was ashamed of my own behaviour as much as my kids, and I was ready for my dreams of acceptance and tolerance and love to come to an unceremonious end with whatever this guy was about to say. But instead, he smiled kindly, and said simply and sincerely, “Your children are filled with such a wonderful curiosity. It was really great to see that.” Which was exactly what I needed to hear – and see – too. Suddenly, I felt a surge in my own capacity for acceptance, tolerence and love – not only toward the pleasant UU strangers, but for my own weird, complex family as well.

This whole going-to-church idea is so crazy, it just might work. So brace yourselves, UU s. We’ll be back.

Dirty Dancing, Elementary School Style

7 02 2009

I can’t remember the last time I went to a dance. Much less, a school dance. Much, much less a school dance at which I was stone-cold sober. But hey, I’m open to new experiences. So, resisting the siren song of a bottle of blueberry wine, I slapped on some lipstick and some sparkly earrings and went to a dance last night. A school dance. An elementary school dance. An elementary school Family Dance. With the whole Blister family.
We arrived fashionably late and fashionably dressed. And by fashionably dressed, I mean clothes that didn’t have big holes, paint, grease, smushed peas, marker stains or cat barf on them. And by fashionably late, I mean half an hour late, because that is how long it took to find five complete outfits that did not have big holes, paint, grease, smushed peas, marker stains or cat barf on them. In my infinite coolness, I even hauled out the coloured hairspray left over from Halloween and gave Roo some pink-tinged piggy tails, and Neener some pink streaked bangs. I did not, however, give them real platinum blond streaks in their hair. Or gobs of turquoise eye shadow. Or airbrushed-on belly tattoos. Which apparently makes me infinitely less cool than the parents of some of the other little girls in Neener and Roo’s class.

Now, here’s how I really know I’m getting old: upon entering the gym, it took me two whole seconds to decide that the music was way too loud. Ridiculously loud. Like I said, I can’t remember the last time I went to a dance, and maybe my kids’ auditory sensitivities are rubbing off on me, but since this was supposed to be a family dance, I figured the music would be at least a little shy of deafening. No-sir-ee-bob. Despite the fact that the crowd ranged from grey-haired grannies to bald-headed babies, the music volume seemed more geared toward glassy-eyed club goers whose senses have been sufficiently dulled by jello-shooters and doobies. Still, I decided to be a good sport. So, while Mr. stayed a safe distance away from the speakers with Squiggles securely  strapped to his chest, Neener and Roo and I ventured on to the dance floor to get our groove on.february09-009

I desperately hoped that “DJ Jeff” would skip the Hannah Montana and Jonas Brothers kid music crap, and give us brave parental souls a chance to kick it old school. Maybe a little U Can’t Touch This.  Or some Maestro Fresh Wes, since I’m pretty sure I can still let my backbone slide without herniating a disc. Or, in my wildest fantasies, a little somethin’ somethin’ that would allow us tragically hip Gen X ‘rents to show those young whipper snappers what a mosh pit was all about. A safe, controlled, adult supervised mosh pit, of course. I could even get into The Chicken Dance, if nothing else. And indeed, DJ Jeff did skip the Hannah Montanna, the Jonas Brothers, and all that kid music crap. Instead, he went right to the obnoxious, hiphoppish dance music with highly sexualized and utterly inappropriate-for-my-five-year-old-daughters’-ears lyrics. From the booming speakers in the school gym, the Pussy Cat Dolls breathlessly sneered, “Dontcha wish you’re girlfriend was hot like me? Dontcha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me? Doncha wish your girlfriend was wrong like me? Dontcha?”  Then Akon – and a cluster of Grade three and four girls – crooned “I Wanna Make Love Right Now.” And then, the non-Madagascar version of “I Like to Move It” implored “All the girls to move ya body. And when ya move it, move it nice and sweet and sexy!” Yes, let the gyrating begin! Who doesn’t love to see elementary school girls moving their bodies nice and sweet and sexy! How else can they prove that they are hot wrong freaks who want to make love right now! Suddenly, I found myself praying for a little bit of the Jonas Brothers’ Disney-manufactured-purity-ring-wearin’-homeschooled-Jesus-worshippin’-family-friendly goodness.

Then, before I could get myself too twisted up about the evening’s soundtrack, some sadistic bonehead masquerading as a responsible adult organizer of this “Family Dance” started the one thing more dangerous to a crowd of little kids than a mosh pit: a stampede. Yes, someone thought it would be fun to toss a few giant beach balls out into the crowd and on to the dance floor. Which resulted in a swarm of twenty or thirty kids running and charging and quickly shifting directions as they chased the beach balls that bounced and bobbed above their heads. By the grace of my lightening quick kid-picking-up reflexes, Roo was saved from being trampled when a wave of people knocked her down. And by the grace of the dirty looks several parents who’d been hit in the face with beach balls shot at whoever’s stupid idea it was, the fiasco came to an abrupt halt before anyone got hurt. But by then, we’d had enough. Neener, Roo and Squiggles had had just enough fun, and were now teetering on the verge of over-tired meltdowns. And Mr. and I wanted to get out of there before they started passing out jello-shooters and playing that sick pedophiliacal Nickelback song about the innocent-looking, pink-thong wearing, thumb-sucking girl teasing all the sugar daddies on the dance floor. The last thing we needed was to hear that hairy old creep singing the line “You look so much cuter with something in your mouth.”

Now, the last time I checked, I was not a prude. Although admittedly, I have not done a thorough check on my prude status since late 2004. Still, we let our kids listen to some pretty grown up music. They love Garbage and Weezer and Radiohead and R.E.M. And they know all the words – even the ‘curse words’ – to the Joan Jett song Bad Reputation, and they sing it with glee. And they totally dig Motorhead and Ozzy Osborne. But I don’t let my five year old daughters listen to songs about having sex. And I don’t let them wear makeup. And I don’t encourage them to have little “boyfriends”, or to make being pretty or sexy or cute their biggest goals in life. But pop culture sure does. So, the whole family dance experience made me feel like a big gigantic prude. Again. Especially because the only parents there who looked even remotely shocked were Mr. and I. Everyone else just seemed to smile – perhaps slightly uncomfortably – and accept that that’s just the way it is for kids today. It might be the way it is, but I can not bring myself to believe that it is ok. Or that I shouldn’t somehow try to fight against it for the sake of my daughters.

So I’m not sure what to do. Do we boycott the school’s family dances from now on, even though the kids had a pretty good time? Do I join the school association that is responsible for planning the dances, and risk coming off like a puritanical neo-con prude when I suggest that some elements of the last one were rather inappropriate? Or do I just show up at the next Family Dance and politely point out to DJ Jeff that the music is too damn loud and too damn dirty for a bunch of little kids and their parents? Ask him if he’s got any MC Hammer? Or how ’bout some Joan Jett? Or Weezer? Or Ozzy? Yeah, DJ Jeff, play some good ol’ wholesome Ozzy Osbourne. I can show the kids how to rock out to Crazy Train. But I might need a glass of blueberry wine or two first.

Snow Guts, Snow Glory

3 02 2009

This just in: Our city has been gripped by a mysterious, frightening condition known as ‘Winter.’

This also just in: Winter increases the risk of white, fluffy icy-like particles falling from the sky, a phenomenon known as ‘Snow’.

And now, for this late breaking news: Snow poses a clear and present danger to children. And teachers. And all vehicles on all roads. And therefore, due to impending snow-related disaster, there will be no school today.

I got up this morning with the intention of writing a thoughtful, insightful post about some thoughtful, insightful parenting issues. But all that got tossed out the window and into the horrid fluffy whiteness  for the sake of a good old fashioned rant. About effing winter and effing snow, and effing school boards canceling effing school because of a bit of effing snow in the middle of the effing winter.

Last night, in my magnanimous magnificence, I told Mr that he could sleep in this morning. I would single handedly handle getting Neener and Roo ready for school while he got some much deserved extra shut-eye. And I did. Amidst changing poopy diapers and taking care of other assorted school-related administrative details,  I managed to get Neener and Roo mostly adequately fed, dressed, washed, and brushed all on my own. Mr. got up just in time to embark on the toboggan ride to school. Looked like a great day for it. Nice and warm, with some light flurries drifting down from the heavens. He laughed and said, ‘Hey, are you sure there’s school? It is snowing.’ It was funny because our school board has set a precedent lately of canceling school based on weather forecasts that are dubious, at best. Completely fictional, at worst. I laughed as I shuffled them all out the door, eager to spend a few minutes playing Hop Little Bunnies with Squiggles before settling down to work for the morning. Then, I thought, just to be safe, I’d better call the cancellation hotline. It seemed ludicrous. So ludicrous that I laughed at myself as I facetiously dialed the number. But I did it anyway just to make absolute sure. We’ve been caught off guard more than once with this whole Surprise! Snow Day thing. And whaddyaknow. School was, indeed, canceled. Impending weather, the serious sounding voice on the other end of  the cancellation hotline claimed. So I poked my head out into the impending weather, which to me looked an awful lot like a nice, slightly snowy winter morning, and I hollered for Mr. and the kids to come back. They could barely make out the words “God damn school is canceled!” because my shock was manifesting as maniacal laughter. As it so often does.

Which begs the question: When did we become such paranoid pussies? Since when is the possibility of snow, even a few substantial inches, and some slushy driving reason enough to call off school for the entire day? I’m not old enough to pull the ol’ ‘When I was your age I walked 15 miles to school, through four feet of snow year-round, up-hill both ways,’ but I am old enough to pull the ol’ ‘ When I was your age, reasonably sound scientific studies had shown that neither children nor school buses nor education professionals were made of sugar, and therefore if exposed to precipitation, it was generally agreed that they would not dissolve.’  And they only canceled school when it was a blizzard fo’ shizzard. Certainly not because the weather girl on Live at Five said it might start snowing sometime in the next 24-48 hours. Or because – gasp! Horror of horrors! – there was already actual snow falling from the actual sky and landing on the actual ground and possibly, even landing on actual children! Lord help us!

Luckily, our family is not in a position where a school cancellation plunges us into panic, scrambling for childcare, or missing work. We can go with the snow flow. Others are not so lucky. We simply adjusted our plans for the day. Instead of working this morning, I enlisted the kids to help me clean the basement. And instead of playing nine rounds of Hop Little Bunnies with Squiggles, and farting around on facebook all afternoon, we painted Valentines boxes and learned how to make mango lassi and had a beach party and sang Blondie songs together.

This just in: My kids would rather spend the day goofing off with their family than pulling on their effing snowsuits to trek through the effing snow only to sit through another effing day of  effing school in the middle of the effing winter.

And come to think of it, so would I. As long as I can get some sort of guarentee that tomorrow’s not gonna be a snow day too.