Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Shall We Dawdle?


I have come to one enormous conclusion about my child recently.  In particular I have discovered his biggest flaw.  Now I know as a mom, I’m not supposed to dish on my child’s faults.  It should be hard for me to even admit that he has a flaw.  But he does…and it’s huge.

My child has absolutely no sense of urgency.  Yes, he is a child prodigy in moseying.

It’s true.  It’s like he doesn’t have anywhere in particular that he has to be. It is the only explanation for his ceaseless dawdling.  There are days when I am so frustrated by the snails pace with which we get things accomplished that I can feel myself going from 0 to psycho and losing my cool with a kid that has no idea what I’m ranting about.  He is, after all, doing what I asked.  It’s not like I ever said these tasks had a time limit. 

The kid turns brushing his teeth into a ten-minute negotiation on the amount of toothpaste that is acceptable on the tip of the brush.

In the time it takes for him to find and put on his shoes alone, I could have defrosted that chicken I forgot to lay out the night before.

We spend more time talking about having to go to the bathroom than just going.  How this child has not exploded from waiting too long is beyond me.   

And getting out of the car…don’t get me started.  Oh, well, never mind…get me started.  He exits my vehicle with the same urgency of a man being forced to leave a sports bar in the middle of a play-off game.

Why I could probably embroider a couch cover if I could redirect all the energy I use up finding creative and non-psycho, anti spirit crushing, child affirming ways to say, “HURRY THE HELL UP.”  (Because hurry the hell up is what I’m actually thinking) Well, at the very least, I could manage to do something with that chicken that I now have defrosted from Shoegate 2012.

In frustration the other day, I found myself saying, “Samuel!  The tortoise just passed us.”  “Huh?” He only briefly looked up from the fruit roll-up box he was determined to “fake read” from top to bottom (I mean the organic whole grain, grass fed, gluten free, soy based, real fruit snack, biodegradable box…obvy) before even entertaining the idea of removing his seat belt to begin the 40-years-in-the-desert-type trek from my car.  

I don’t understand him.  Where is his sense of urgency?

Does he not get that when I decide to hit the snooze button three times too many and wake him up by raving about how we’re already 15 minutes late and he needs to hurry that that means really hurry?  You mean he doesn’t stop and think, “I know mom needed that extra 21 minutes of sleep and now we’re running a few minutes late, but that’s okay, because I’ll help her out by picking out my clothes and getting dressed myself before she even gets done putting on her make up.” 

It’s like he has no boss, taking note of when he gets to work.

No iCal burdened with multiplying tasks that have to be completed before his energy runs out.

It’s like he has no bills to pay, or responsibilities, or even a basic understanding of time and how hurried life can and needs to be.

It’s like he’s a…child.

That kid just might be on to something.  

If you need me, I’ll be in the backseat of my car “fake reading” one of my 50 cookbooks because perhaps we could all stand to slow our pace down a bit.

I said "a bit."

Friday, April 20, 2012

Thank you, Erma


This week, I am using the Christmas gift that my parents so generously gave me this year.  I am at the Erma Bombeck Writer's Workshop in Dayton, Ohio.

I am overwhelmed by this amazing experience.  I am overwhelmed at so thoughtful and caring and supportive a gesture from my amazing parents.  I am overwhelmed by the caliber of speakers that are willing to share what they know to a room full of rising humor writers.  I am overwhelmed by the kindness and support of every person I've met.  But I think the thing that has most overwhelmed me is the legacy of one woman, who I've never met, but who has made an enormous impression on my life.  

Thank you, Erma.  

Last night, the first night of the conference, the speaker introduced Bill Bombeck (Erma's husband) and her kids.  Bill took the stage to read his favorite Erma story to us.  Bill has to be in his 80's and could not read the story without choking up quite a few times.  In fact, getting choked up would be the theme as each family member took the stage to share their favorite story.  When she died, Erma left both an inspiring legacy and a gigantic hole...and sitting in the banquet hall last night and tonight listening to the love of her family, praise from professional writers and the adoration from all those in attendance...I couldn't help but feel them both.  

I started writing sarcastic stories in elementary school.  I was born with sarcasm...it was my spiritual gift.  Of course, it has taken many years to hone this, um, gift into something that was actually funny and not completely disrespectful.  Erma didn't inspire me to be a humor writer...I have always been a humor writer.  When I was writing early stories about superfluous organs and how useless high school language classes were, I was in the beginning stages of finding my voice.  

And Erma didn't teach me that. 

What Erma taught me was that what I was doing had a name.  It had a niche.  It had a purpose.  And mostly, that there was a classy way to be funny (or that you should just change people's names).  Erma gave me direction.  She taught me fearlessness.  She taught me honesty.  She has been to me, like to so many others, a silent mentor.  She has helped me fine tune and define my voice as a writer.  She has empowered me to say, "I am a writer," and not stutter while doing so.  She taught me to, in her words, "hook 'em with the lead, hold 'em with the laughter and leave 'em with a quip they won't forget."

So I will not bore you with my very own Julie/Julia story...instead I will simply leave you with one of Erma's many amazing quotes:

"For me, heaven on earth is using up every bit of life before I leave it."  Erma Bombeck

And although you left us too early, you continue to give back. So, thank you, Erma. I am forever an admirer and a humble student of yours.