Fear and Loathing at Back to School Night

I guess it is my previous blogs about Chuck E. Cheese and amusement parks that have got me in the mind set of reflecting on what other heinous rights of passage one must partake in as a parent. I think probably chief among these would be school functions. Just the mention of the words PTA meeting, school orientation, back to school night, or open house is enough to send me into an apoplectic fit wherein I may go to such lengths as hiding under the sink or even denying that I have children. But it never seems to work. So, off I go to yet another loathsome affair all the while thinking of why I don’t want to be there.

1. I have to leave my house. I hate to admit it, but as a working mother of two children, I really need two solid hours a night of sitting on the couch and watching sitcoms in a vegetative state. If I am deprived of these two hours, it better be for a damned compelling reason. I guess there’s not much question in your mind as to whether I find these functions compelling but if there’s any question in your mind as to why I feel this way, read on.

2. Attendance is mandatory? Okay, it’s not really mandatory, it’s just kind of highly recommended in that this is a preventative measure for teacher’s to take so that they are not assaulted by a barrage of questions later in the year. Therefore, it is upon pain of death that you don’t attend. Punishment could possibly result in being the mother responsible for there not being a pizza party at the end of the month, loss of an extra credit point for your child, or being spoken about in the following way:

“I heard Mrs. Bergen did not attend Back to School Night last Thursday. Do you know that she also serves her children frozen dinners and doesn’t recycle her soup cans??”

Well I am here to tell you that I have missed an occasional Back to School function and it is not the end of the world. You bring them to school on time, you have them do their homework, the report cards come, you figure it out.

3…. And we’re back at school. I don’t know what it is, maybe the fact that I am now seated in a tiny chair wherein my knees are positioned somewhere close to my ear lobes, but I suddenly feel as if I am now the world’s oldest kindergartener. This in turn makes me feel very rebellious towards the teacher, so watch out for the various circumstances in which…

4. The teacher pisses me off. This could, and has included teachers using improper grammar such as the misuse of the word ‘like’ as in “I was like…” Please, if you can not use proper grammar when meeting your student’s parents, you should not be teaching my child. Also, the use of the collective we, as in’ “How are we doing today” begs the answer, “I don’t know about you but I feel like killing someone”. And any hint that you are going to be a hard ass on my kid may give me the idea that we are not going to be buddies.

5. We’re all in the together. Now parents, I know that we are all here for our children, learning about their education, with one common goal in mind…to get the hell out of here as quickly as possible. This is why I dread the time when the teacher is done talking and I am hopeful that I will get maybe one hour of couch potato time, when 50 hands spring into the air. I know you may have questions. Even I may have had one or two in my time. But let’s try to eliminate the obvious, (If my child is sick should I keep her at home? what if it’s just a cold?) are relevant only to your child (Little Lucinda gets a little stuffy if the temperature is over 73.5 degrees, is it possible to adjust the school thermostats accordingly?) and the downright stupid (So the kids have to be on time every day??).

Okay, so now that we’ve laid the ground rules, please tune in for my next blog, “Why You Really Don’t Want Me To Join the PTA”.

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Cover Letter of A Dropout Musician Mom

Dear Mr. Big Fat Shithead,

My name is Marissa Bergen and I am very interested in the open position your company has available.

I see you are looking for someone with a college education. You will be pleased to know that I attended college for quite some time before I realized that it was a huge, boring waste of my time. After that I furthered my education by teaching myself to play the guitar, writing songs, and reading books because I actually wanted to read them, not because they were assigned to me.

I developed marketing and people skills by booking and promoting my own rock band. I also proved myself to be a self starter and entrepreneur when I opened my own candy store and coat check business inside a rock n’ roll night club where I made more money selling Blow Pops to stoners than I will ever make at your stinkin’ job.

Now I am a mother of 2 children. Every day I get them to school on time, make sure they are dressed, clean, fed, and that their homework is completed. So sorry if I am a bit insulted when you question my abilities to be hard working, prompt, reliable, organized and detail oriented.

Please see attached for my resume. Fuck you very much for your time and consideration.

-Marissa Bergen
323-555-1885

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The Infinite Wisdom of Anjelica Bean

During my tween and teenage years, Ronnie James Dio was one of my favorite artists. I loved Dio, I related to Dio, I worshipped Dio! I would come home from a day of being teased at school for liking rock music and I would blast Ronnie James Dio’s music, and suddenly all their words would seem so small.

Growing up without a father wasn’t always easy. I know this is going to sound silly, but in my messed up teenaged mind, sometimes I let Dio fill that void.

"Dad?"

“Dad?”

"Child!"

“Child!”

Dio died of cancer in 2010. He was 65 years old. When I heard this news, I was saddened that the world had lost such a great artist, but I also felt like I had lost a friend. And with this loss, a chapter in my life had closed.

Now, so many years later, my son has been assigned to play bass on one of Dio’s songs for his School of Rock Show. Obviously, this song, “Rainbow in the Dark” has been playing in our house on a fairly regular basis.

It was after one of my son’s practice sessions, that my daughter, in all her 6 year old wisdom and sagacity, said,

“If that guy Dio was alive today… I’d thank him for the best song ever.”

Am I proud that my daughter appreciates heavy metal music? Of course. Am I glad that my daughter seems to have inherited my love for Ronnie James Dio? You bet I am!

But this goes so far beyond a genre and an artist. This is about the gift of music. This is about the gift of a song.

Kill The Rat-Why Chuck E. Cheese Must Die!

The weekend rolls around again. The play dates have all been play dated, the movies have all been seen and there is NOTHING TO DO. “What do you want to do this weekend?” I ask my children hoping they will suggest something doable, affordable and tolerable, but they just shrug in that ever adorable childlike way and say, “I don’t know.” Friday afternoon turns into Friday evening and I ask the children again if there is anything they would like to do, hoping some words of wisdom to escape them, but the answer remains the same. It is almost bedtime when I finally say it. The words come out of my mouth in slow motion as if I am watching a train coming towards me but am powerless to move out of it’s way, “Would you like to go to Chuck E. Cheese?” And so I have sealed my fate.

Saturday afternoon arrives as I enter the third circle of hell. I am greeted by the smell of congealed cheese and sweaty feet. My sentence has begun. But although I have to ask a couple of the dads to hold me back from the kid who hovers over my son while he plays air hockey, a little too eager for his turn, or the toddler that seems to have no concept of personal space, finally an hour and a half has passed. I have done my duty as a parent and tell my children it is time to leave. Amazingly they agree and before I know it, I am on my way to the ticket muncher (ha,ha, she said muncher) and we are soon to be on our way.

But wait, WAIT!! An announcement comes over the loud speaker. Chuckie will be out soon to do a stupid dance and throw out some tickets in 3 minutes. “Can we stay?” my children ask. And of course I relent.

3 minutes turn into hours as I wait for the rodent to appear. Finally he emerges in all his glory. The floor is crowded with children of all ages doing the hokey pokey as they shuffle without sense or direction to the right and left, hurling into each other. A child clings to Chuckie’s legs for dear life, certain that this will secure him all the tickets he has ever dreamed of. The dance finally comes to a spectacular finale as a 16 year old boy comes out to release the tickets, sure to die of embarrassment if his homies should be passing by. He goes to throw the tickets out once, then twice, then three times, psyching the kids out with every motion. “For the love of God man” think I, “throw the tickets out and release me from this torture!”

Finally the tickets are thrown as a swarm of bodies hit the floor. It is a massacre that I can only look at through the spaces between my fingers that are now covering my eyes as, not only children, but mothers, fathers and even grandparents prepare to fight to the death for precious tickets sure to secure half a Tootsie Roll for their snot nosed offspring.

Satisfied with their winnings, my children are now ready to exit this arena of death and I breath a sigh of relief…until the next time I prepare to do battle in the Lair of The Rat. There is no doubt about it…Chuck E. Cheese must die.

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You Named Your Baby What Now?

Baby names are getting weirder and weirder. Taking a guilty pleasure in the many articles written in the past couple of weeks like, “Weirdest Baby Names of 2013” or “Top Baby Names of the Millennium”, I can personally tell you that baby names have taken a turn for the, well, let’s just say unusual. As each celebrity and yuppie tries to top each other with a more unusual name for their child, it is shocking how many babies bear the name Blue or how many babies are named for suburbs in New York, as the Jennifers, Saras and Michaels are replaced by McKenzies and Jaydens.

All this has got me thinking that perhaps the names I gave my children are just too hohum. It is so often when I hear a random word and think, “Wow, that’s what I should have named Anjelica!” So to prevent expecting parents from making the same mistake I have, I would like to share some ideas I had so that we can all make 2014 the weirdest year for baby names yet.

Raid your Medicine Cabinet: That’s right. It’s right in your home, easily accessible, and it offers a wealth of baby names. You can go the safe, herbal route and name your child something like Valerian, Chamomile, Schizandra or Acai, but imagine sending your little stinker off to school with a name like Iodine, Benzoyl or even Viagra.

Think Cars: Sure we’ve all heard our share of Royces and even a couple of Fords. But if you really want your child’s name to speak luxury, try Lamborghini, Ferrari, Porsche, Lexus or Jaguar. Love the environment? Maybe Prius would be a more suitable name for your child?

Music: It’s not too unusual to name a child for a musician or musical group. I’m sure a lot of Elvises are well into their 40s by now. And while your neighbors have all probably given birth to a couple of Madonnas and Beyonces already, not to mention that woman at school who has one in the oven she is thinking of naming Lorde, let’s think a little outside of the box, shall we? I know there are some Axls running around, and I’ve even heard a few Lemmys (even on a girl no less), but has anyone ever thought of Metallica, Nirvana, Ramone or even Mumford?

Movies: Another source of inspiration in baby names is the cinema. While I’m sure there are a million Star Wars inspired Lukes and Leias out there, I am thinking that Anakins, Darths and Bobas are pretty low on the population list. In fact, the sci-fi genre is just full of ingenuity when it comes to baby names. Think Gandalf, Aragorn and Neo. More of a comedy lover? Why not Napolean or Burgundy. But I think I have come up with the single most clever, most unusual baby name of all time. I would bet on the fact that it is unused and I, in fact, dare anyone to name their child after this definitive movie character of the century. That’s right…it’s McLovin.
P.S. You know how the link suggestions are supposed to show up when you are editing your posts? Mine are not doing that. Also not suggesting tags. Anyone else? Thanks.

Happy New Nuttin’! (What New Years Means To Me)

New Years can be a great time of the year. Whether you look back at the year that past with fond recollections, or whether the last year was not all you hoped it would be, there is always the prospect of a fresh start with high hopes for the year to come.

However,  like Pandora’s Box, and other things that carry the prospect of hope, there is also a certain amount of evil abound. For me, that evil can be summed up with three simple words: New Years Eve.

Back when I was young and single, in the days following Christmas, my mind would be largely occupied by a single thought: “What would be THEEE THING to do on New Years Eve?” The answer was always the same, and that would be to find some small intimate party with my closest friends and spend the entire night there. The problem was that, most years, such parties did not exist. The second most reasonable option then, was to go to sleep at 9 o’ clock and pray that I did not wake up until well past noon the next day. However, for a hardcore scenester like myself, this option presented the possibility that I would miss out on something LEGEND (wait for it) ARY.So once again, another option put to the wayside.

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All this added up to me being out on the streets, following leads on parties that I was not quite invited to, or trying to charm my way into overcrowded venues for free, as I set off on a long, and often unsuccessful quest for the ultimate New Years Eve. It also inspired me to write this somewhat dismal account of what New Years means to me.

1. Everyone is entirely too drunk entirely too early
2. All my favorite clubs are charging an exorbitant fee at the door and are overrun by a bridge and tunnel crowd
3. Everyone expects something magical to happen and often it doesn’t
4. The TV selection is obnoxious and everyone at Times Square looks freezing cold and like they have to pee really badly
5. Resolutions are for suckers
6.If you are a parent, you could enjoy an expensive night out with your significant other,(not to mention what you had to pay the babysitter to work on…gasp…New Years Eve!!!) only to wake up at 7 AM with a throbbing head and a toddler who thinks it would be fun to start off the new year by pouncing on your bed.
7. If you are single you are weighing your options on the whole midnight kiss thing…and it does not look promising
8.The news has slowed to a halt and now all journalists remind us that we have spent the year looking at Miley Cyrus, Justin Beiber, and the Kardashians and using acronyms much too often.
9. The prospect of going back to work seems more hideous than ever.
10. 358 days till Christmas

All of this leads me to my current state of contentment which is staying at home with  my husband and two children who are easily pleased by party poppers, funny hats, cookies, and a movie on New Years Day. So I guess I did get that intimate party with my closest friends after all…and I’m gonna stay there…all night.

With sincere hopes that you fare better than I ever have on New Years Eve… May the odds be ever in your favor.

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Women Our Age

Oh leather pants, oh leather pants
Oh how you mock me so
Hot pants and halter tops
I guess you all must go

And all the boys I turned away
I guess they’re older too
And maybe they’ll remember me
As the girl that they once knew.
Soccer moms and working moms
Same age as me, I’m told
Do I fit in so seamlessly?
Surely I am not that old.
Days turn into weeks and months
Yet I spend my time denying.
I am still that 16 year old girl
It’s the mirror that is lying.

An Open Letter to The Rock N’ Roll Super Children

Dear Jesse,

I’m sorry that, as our first born, you had to be our guinea pig. But what an adorable guinea pig you were!
Remember kickin’ it old skool style in our Hollywood one bedroom? I remember bringing you home from the hospital and not knowing what to do. How was I going to get the laundry done? How was I going to use the bathroom? But, of course, everything worked out in the end.
How about those awkward baby months? I remember how, when you were 3 months old, your impossibly long eyelashes grew in almost overnight. Grandma called that day. I picked up the phone and immediately gushed into it, “He’s beautiful!”
I remember holding your tiny little  body and thinking that you gave me a sense of calm and reassurance. This is a trait that you still have today and it makes you a natural leader.
As you grow older, I never fail to be amazed at your natural grace, your passion for reading, and your aptitude for music; the way you start out playing two sloppy arpeggios on guitar and manage to turn it into a beautiful song.

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Dear Anjellica,
I guess the verdict is still out on whether our years of experience paid off.
When you were born the nurses lay you next to me on the hospital bed and you just kept mewing at me like a little kitten as if, at less than an hour old, you were eager to start on your first gossip session.
I remember how your face popped out of your swaddled hospital blankets like a rose that had just bloomed.
As you grow older, I never fail to be amazed at your enthusiasm, your creativity, your precocious sense of humor, and your stunning, astounding, unequivocal beauty; how you manage to take a pen and post it note and turn it into a tiny work of art that, no matter how many litter our floor, I could never bring myself to discard.
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To both of my Rock N’ Roll Super Children: Shine on you crazy diamonds.
Love always,
Mommy