Pool Snark

Local temperature:  hotterthanfuckinghell for the past few days.  i’d managed to ditch work, and get poolside by 4pm.  Silence.  Between baking in the heat, and dipping in the cool, chlorinated water, i was enjoying a fine decompression cycle.

Fifteen minutes into my human laundry operation, i heard a gaggle* of boyz descending upon the communal facility.  Five of them, ranging in age from about eight to twelve years old.  Equipped with squirt guns, they barreled through the gate, and dive-bombed the water as i was relaxing on a lounge chair…

Their mother/keeper and a friend settled in a few minutes later on their chairs, a few yards away from me.  As the boisterous boyz played a noisy game of “Capture, Drown and Torture”, their mom said “Watch out that you don’t get other people wet with those, okay?”

i was the only ‘other people’ there, so i appreciated that she was attempting to manage the chaos.

Within minutes, however, it was clear she was going to SUCK at managing the chaos.

Running on the concrete, taking one of the metal pipes apart, and very nearly drowning the youngest.  “Don’t squirt water in his face!  You hear me?”  They were having a blast on a hot day.  “I said you need to stop running, okay?”  The noise didn’t bother me, as they were having fun.

It was when i got hosed with the squirt gun unexpectedly that i started to get a bit miffed.

Mom:  Boys!  Be careful with those!  And stop running!  [to me] Sorry!

i waved it off.  Went back to dunk in the pool again to re-soak my body and swimsuit.  As i walked down the steps into the pool, one of the kids ran past Mom (who was now back to yakking with her friend), and then cannonballed himself into the pool nearly on top of me.

Mom hollered some more ineffective parental-sounding statements, and the boyz went back to their chaotic play.

It wasn’t the noise, or even the splashing, that finally got me to leave.  It was having to listen to one of those milque-toasty, door-matty, victim-moms pretending to be an adult, while a herd of kids run her over like a sailcat on hot asphalt.

Started to pack up my gear.  Put the towel around my waist, slipped on my sandals and headed toward the gate.

Mom:  Sorry they’re so loud!

daisyfae [cheerfully]:  Well, being sorry and actually doing something about it are apparently two different things!  But hey, enjoy the rest of your day!

pic found here, along with a nicely written post on wimpy-ass parenting.

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* What’s the collective noun for a group of boyz?  In this case, i’d have to go with “A Feral of Boyz”.  For crunchy, middle-aged broads like me?  Pretty sure it’s a “Snark”…

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Relativity

Doing a heading check with Taylor, one of my young scientists at the office.  Going over various and sundry things as we go into yet another round of “reorganization”, assuring him that his work is valued and that i will continue to captain him through the apparent bureaucratic storm.

We then wandered off into “whazzup”… and i mentioned that i’m off for a long weekend to orchestrate another extended family ‘cousins’ reunion in Tennessee.  He’s aware of some of my trailer park issues, and as a kid coming up from a rough launch in one of the poorest parts of South Carolina, he just gets it…

He asked after the warring factions at the homestead.  i’d clued him in to the living arrangements for my Mom, and the ongoing feud with my sister in Florida, Hurricane T as she railed against the exploitation of Mom’s finances by my niece DQ.  He asked if they would all be in the same place…

My sister hasn’t visited Mom for two years – the last time she came back to The Park she could not contain her rage at the living arrangements.  At that time, Mom was living in a bed in DQ’s living room, displayed like a zoo animal.  Sister T was beyond livid.  And we all agreed that future visits would need to be on neutral turf until the renovations on the old homestead are competed.

The reunion offered a very convenient chance to organize a visit with Mom and daughter, T.  As the event organizer, i watched another Trailer Park Mexican Standoff as both T and DQ didn’t confirm attendance until the last-minute.  Almost simultaneously, in fact.

daisyfae:  Yes.  And my role?  i’ve rented a third cabin to house Mom, my sister, her partner and myself, to assure some degree of neutral territory with my niece and her clan…

Taylor:  Seems like a good strategy!

daisyfae: i’m functioning as NATO Peace-keeper, while trying to assure that my Mom and my cousins have a good chance to visit and re-connect.

Taylor:  Yeah.  I know how that works.  The last time my family attempted a reunion?  The cops were called about three times.  A few arrests and everything.  We decided to quit doing reunions…

daisyfae:…

image found here

So i’m off to a glorious hollow in northern Tennessee.  Long weekend.  Doing a reprise of our long weekend in 2008 on a gorgeous Kentucky lakefront.  Still trying to untangle an intricate mix of “Tennessee Liquor Laws” to assure that Hurricane T and i are not going to run out of essentials.

A few of my cousins are fully aware of the family dynamics, and are only concerned with spending time with Mom – as she is the last of the three sisters of the clan.  i love these people.  Should be entertaining.  A metric fuck-ton* of blog-fodder if nothing else…

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* Metric Fuck-ton = 10 Metric Shit-tons.  Also, a Shit-ton = 1.6 Metric Shit-tons.  Know your units of measure, folks…

The Five-Oh

Walking across the parking lot to my car on the day before my 50th birthday, i heard them before i saw them.  Squeals.  Hoots and hollers.  The sound of the chains on the swing set squeaking as the older children pumped skyward in canvas slings.  Giggles, laughs and squawks.

“Child Development Center”.  What was called a “Day Care” when my children were small.  Before that?  We called them “baby sitters” before “newspeak” demanded higher purpose.

Doesn’t matter what you call it.  It’s the sound of a village taking care of children.

There’s one just across the street from my office, and i am occasional sent tripping down memory lane when i hear those sounds.  The happy sounds of small humans in the throes of unstructured play.  Outside.

In the winter, i am delighted to see them in their Eskimo coats, bundled up, and soaking in the distant, ineffective sun.  They go out after lunch every day, and again at the end of the day.  So long as it’s not pissing rain or ice.  And they play.  Without adults coaching, controlling the field, or telling them where to go and what to do.  Gently kicking them back into play when they go out-of-bounds.  Certainly referring the occasional fight.

On the bikes with Studley after work last week, i was quite surprised to see a little kid, maybe three years old, standing in his back yard.  As we cruised along the bikeway, he was poking at the bark on a tree, and pulling leaves.  Deeply ensconced in the mechanics of being a small child. Whatever he was doing, it was pretty important.  Dad was in a lawn chair about thirty yards away.  Reading a book.  NOT entertaining him.

Something i rarely see anymore.

Every day, i spot dozens of minivans with children lashed into the back seat, watching videos on the on-board entertainment systems.  i swear at the traffic jam near the soccer fields, as parents rush home from work, feed their kids on the fly, and cart them off to recreational practices.

But i’m still astonished to see a child at play.

Growing up?  The neighborhood was lousy with suburban yard urchins. We were kicked outside after breakfast, fed lunch on the picnic table, expected to be home for dinner when the Dads arrived home, launched out til twilight, when we were called home for the night.  Repeat until Labor Day.

We played.  Army.  Kickball, whiffleball, softball, football.  Climbed trees and swiped apples.  Ate green apples until we got “the trots”.  Built forts.  Fought.  Bullied and got bullied.  Created imaginary adult scenarios with suitcases full of Barbie dolls, who were insidiously destroying our natural body images. Complex games of “Private Investigator”, complete with dossiers on the neighbors.

i love hearing those happy squeals from the little critters as they push trikes and scooters around the yard.  It’s nice to hear them playing, even for an hour a day. Even inside a fence at the baby sitters a day care a child development center.

We’ve robbed our children.  Swiped something very important from them in the name of “good parenting”.  In the millions of ways we’ve fucked them over?  i believe this is among the worst….

pic that could have been from my childhood found here

Post-script:  Wrote a rough draft of this at my desk this morning. At the ripened age of 50 years and three days.  The nostalgia.  The glimmers of wisdom that have come with age.  Feeling ancient.  Absent-mindedly rubbing my hand across my chin, i encountered yet another unmistakable sign of age — one of those fucking chin whiskers, with the constitution of steel, that spring up over-night.  Stroking my granny-spike with annoyance, i then encountered  something else.  Something fresh.  Bringing the unmistakable sign of greasy youth.  A grape-sized subcutaneous zit, about to erupt right next to that fucking chin hair.  [sigh]

Trailer Park: Sunday Night Follies

Plot Synopsis (for newer readers):  My 83-year old mother has been living with my niece, DQ, and her husband, BJ, and their spawn (17-year-old DQ, Jr. and 4-year-old DQ, III) and feral animals, for three years. The plan was to renovate Mom’s old house – building on an addition for her – in six months. Mom would finance the renovations. BJ would do most of the work. In return, Mom ‘paid’ BJ in advance, with 17 acres of wooded land that allows him to kill deer and turkeys to his little redneck heart’s content.

There was a bit of “requirements creep” along the way.  Not just a small apartment for Mom, but also a substantial Master Suite for DQ and BJ.  On top of the existing 3-bedroom house.  Since Mom set it up so that the deed to the wooded acreage transfers to my niece when she dies? There is little incentive for BJ to finish the renovation. Also very little incentive for my niece and her husband to keep Mom alive – other than the stream of funding they suck out of her to pay their bills and provide a continual infusion of fast food into the household…

Update: Slow progress on renovations (three years so far), despite the fact that BJ has been laid off, collecting unemployment compensation, with plenty of free time to renovate. In theory. Since the last update, heating and air conditioning has been installed. Siding is up. No estimated “move in” date, however, as no one down there seems to understand the concept of a ‘deadline’.  Mom hasn’t told them that they don’t get the house if she dies before it’s done – she left that for me to handle after she’s gone.

Although i’ve managed to dissociate myself with much of the horse shit in the familial trailer park, i still call Mom every Sunday night around 10pm. The call last Sunday was particularly frustrating…

Mom: Hello?

daisyfae: Hey, Momma-chick, it’s daisyfae! How’s it going?

Mom: STOP THAT! [sounds of snuffling, growling]

daisyfae: What’s going on?

Mom: GET BACK FROM THERE! That’s not yours! [more snuffling]

daisyfae: What the hell is going on, Mom?

Mom: Oh, that nasty dog is trying to bite me… Hey! STOP THAT!

daisyfae: Hit it with your cane! Jesus, Mom! Do you want me to call you back so you can beat it?

Mom: No. QUIT IT!

Things settled down. She pushed the dog back with the cane, and then hollered for the 17-year-old, DQ, Jr. to come and take care of her dog.

daisyfae: Wait – DQ and BJ left you there to take care of the animals while they went off on another riding* trip? But DQ, Jr. is there on her lazy ass while you take care of her fucking dog?

Mom: I swear, this is the nastiest** dog…

daisyfae: Has there been ANY progress on the house?

Mom: Oh, I guess. Things might actually be worse when we move in there. Right now? They’ll take me with them when they go to the store***… After we move? They’ll probably just leave me in the back room by myself.

daisyfae: Right. You like it this way…

Mom: Who knows what’s… [WAILING in the background] DQ, III? What happened?

DQ, III: MY FINGER’S BLOODY! WAAAAAAAAH!

Mom: Come here – let me look… Oh, that’s not too bad. Go get DQ, Jr. and have her wash it and put a bandaid on it…

DQ, III: WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! It’s blood. IT’S BLOOD!

Mom [yelling down hallway]: DQ, Jr? Come here and take care of DQ, III’s cut.

daisyfae: Seriously. i can call back later…

Mom: No, it’s ok. It’s not a bad cut… [to DQ, Jr.] Did you put Bactine on it first?

daisyfae: So let me get this straight – they left on vacation for the weekend, left the 17-year-old there with you, but you’re taking care of the 4-year-old AND the smelly dogs? Mom? This ain’t right… And why the hell is the kid still up at 10:30pm? She’s FOUR?

Mom: It’s fine…

DQ, III: Granny, is my Mommy coming home?

Mom: Yes, she’s on her way home.

DQ, III: Is it because I got a boo-boo?

Mom: No, they were headed home already.

DQ, III: Did you call her? Is she coming home because I’m hurt?

Mom [sighs]: Yes… she’s coming home because you got a boo-boo.

image found here

* They have no discretionary income. They just bought another 4-wheeler. Mud-hoppin’ dune buggy thing. They drive 400 miles to go play around in the muck for a weekend. Because they need a vacation. Life is so stressful when you don’t money or jobs…

** Another great idea when you have no job and no money? Spend $500 to purchase a dog. Shar Pei. The kinds that are prone to skin disorders and allergies. You know. The stuff that leads to ridiculous veterinarian bills?

*** Because they can just throw a few things in her cart to get her to pay for them… Or maybe stop for food at McD’s on the way back. Or make a quick stop for gas…