Friday, January 27, 2012

The Bucket List

This morning, my eight year old daughter told me she needed to write a bucket list. After I got over being stunned that she even knows what a bucket list is, I asked her why she felt she needed one.

“The end of the world is coming on 12/21/21. There are a lot of things I need to get done before then,” she said, very seriously.

I am proud that I didn’t laugh. I tried hard to look pensive, considering her words for a minute, careful to answer in a way that didn’t dismiss her feelings or statement. “Yes, I can see where you’d have a lot to do if the world was ending then.” Boy, that Mayan calendar really has her concerned. “Are you afraid?” I asked.

“No, just worried that I won’t get everything done in time,” she said.

“Like what?” I asked, really curious about the contents of her bucket list.

Without missing a beat, Natalie rattled off the items that she needed to get done before the world ends at the end of this year. She’d clearly given this some thought:

Go to Stanford. (I told her she wasn’t old enough to go to college yet. She amended her statement and said, “Go to a summer program at Stanford.”)

Get married. (Again, I reminded her of that age thing…she shot back, “Fine, a crush…”)

See Paris, tour China, and eat pizza in Italy. (I told her those were all great, but that I wasn’t sure we’d have time to fit all that in over summer vacation.)

Go on a shopping spree. (I cringed a little at the materialism, but then figured, hey, shouldn’t she have one visit to the mall where the sky’s the limit? I mean, if the end of the world is coming, why not go out looking one’s very best ? I did remind her that if for some reason, the Mayan’s prediction didn’t come true, those bills would have to be paid. She said she’d worry about that later.)

Adopt 3 more dogs and 6 children. (I started to tell her that she was too young to adopt children and that we don’t have space for more than one dog, but then I realized I was being a downer and simply told her it was admirable to want to help other people and animals.)

After she’d completed her list, I mentioned that in 2000 everyone worried that chaos would ensue when the clocks flipped over on New Year’s Eve because (as they warned) the computers and other tech devices were not prepared to change from the 1900s to the 2000s – the infamous Y2K. I told her how the media and everyone else talked about the awful things that would happen – all computer data being lost – bank accounts, investments, anything important that was kept on computer; the financial, transportation, and healthcare systems coming to a stop because of their reliance on computers; and prison doors popping open and allowing criminals to roam free because the prisons had computerized security systems. What they pretty much described was the end of the world as we knew it. There was great consternation in some circles. In others, we just backed up our computers and printed out vital documents in case the system went down temporarily. Well, Y2K was a big nothing, I told her. Not a thing bad happened. She considered my story, then said with more confidence than an 8 year old should have, “I want to get these things done…just in case.”

So Natalie is writing her bucket list and planning for our end of the world party on 12/21/12. She asked if we knew any Mayans to invite to the party. I told her I’d work on it.

See you on 12/22/12.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Birthdays and Other Things in Common with Mass Murderers

One of the things I love about kids is that you can fall into conversations with them that you would never have with adults. There are some things in life that kids just haven't learned about yet…although that never stops them from talking about it. I had one of those conversations yesterday.


Natalie - 8
Nicole - 11
Dawn - young enough to have seen Star Trek in reruns, old enough to know not to list her age


In auto line for after school pick up


Dawn's car, aka momuv, aka place where kids leave their 1/2 eaten sandwiches and empty gum wrappers in the cup holders.

Dawn surfs her phone, leaving the car on (and draining her battery) so that Natalie can wear headphones and entertain herself by singing along with some inane pop tune on Radio Disney.

Nicole hops into the car, tosses her backpack into the seat.

Nicole: Hiya!

Dawn: How was school, hon?

Nicole: Really exciting…

Natalie: (talking off her headphones, interrupting) …exciting…what?

Nicole: Today in class we learned that Max, Becca, Dee Dee, and Hitler all have the same birthday.

Natalie: Who names their kid Hitler?

Dawn bursts out laughing, uncontrollably, realizes that Natalie doesn't know who that is. Guess third grade hasn't covered world history yet.

Nicole: Hitler isn't in our class.

Natalie: Then why were you celebrating his birthday?

Nicole: We weren't!

Dawn, now laughing too hard to intervene, tries to calm herself, can’t. The conversation continues to veer off course.

Nicole: We wouldn't celebrate his birthday…

Natalie: But you said Max, Dee Dee, Becca, and Hitler all have the same birthday…did they bring cupcakes?

Having just calmed herself, the cupcake comment sends Dawn back into another wave of laughter. Dawn tries to explain between laughs.

Dawn: Hitler is not in their class, Natalie…Nicole, she doesn't understand…

Nicole: Oh God, no, Natalie, he's bad.

Natalie: Whose class is he in?

Dawn laughs harder, tears in her eyes, unable to catch her breath.

Nicole: Natalie! He's not a kid…he's a bad guy in history…They were just all born on the same day.

Dawn: You were studying history today?

Nicole: Yeah, and Max pointed out that they all had the same birthday.

Natalie: (Disappointed) So there weren't any cupcakes?

Dawn starts laughing again.

Natalie: (Sincerely upset) Why are you laughing, Mommy?

Dawn: (Between laughs) I'm sorry. It's not funny. He was a bad guy who hurt many people.

Natalie puts her headphones back on in a huff, suspects she's being lied to.

Natalie: I didn't think anyone would name their kid Hitler.

Nicole: Does anyone want to hear about my day?

Dawn starts another laughing jag as they drive off.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Christmas Fail

Many things didn’t get done this Christmas. No cards were sent, baked goods were half baked and most of them were eaten before we could send them off in pretty little gift bags. Some gifts barely made it out the door, others still sit in the back seat of my car hoping to make it to their recipient sometime before they are too old to wear/use/eat it. I did not send thank you notes for the lovely and thoughtful gifts we received. I did not set a beautiful table on Christmas Day, or New Year’s Day for that matter. Although I am the queen of eating off paper plates, I make it a habit to insist that on those two days of the year (at the very least), I rise above paper and plastic, and serve my family a meal off of something that doesn’t have to be recycled…But not this year. It was a major Christmas fail.

David and I both worked through the holidays. David worked long hours on the days leading up to Christmas, New Year’s Eve day and night, and all day on New Year’s. That blasted a hole in the seasonal holiday traditions we’d developed over the years. Hard to go caroling or drive out to see the lights at Candy Cane Lane when daddy doesn’t get home until 2am. I worked on a production the week leading up to Christmas, and all day on Christmas Eve. I loved the experience, it was amazing and I’d do it again in a heartbeat if they ask me, but that, in addition to fighting off a cold (a war I didn’t win), and a general sense of being overwhelmed by the holidays, meant a few things had to give. And give, they did.

I managed to feed the family over the holidays, but only after spending enough to boost the economy of the entire Los Angeles restaurant industry. How many times do you think you can go to McDonald’s, Starbucks, Jamba Juice, El Torito, or Big Mama’s Pizza in one week? You don’t want to know.

I hate shopping, hate malls even more. I usually plan out and do all of my holiday shopping online so I can limit the number of times I have to step foot in a mall and fight with some old lady (who I’d normally be really respectful to) because she’s about to steal my parking space and I’m one step away from ripping off her front fender and dragging her out of the car by her blue hair. But I didn’t plan ahead and order in time for online delivery, so I was forced to go to the mall. I dragged myself from store to store, mumbling under my breath and complaining as I bumped shoulders with other shoppers. My daughters, who (of course) LOVE going to the mall, were delighted. I rarely take them during the rest of the year, ranting that the mall is really just a large shrine to greed and over consumption which I only succumb to this time of year. Nicole looked at me sadly and complained, “It’s really not fair that we have a mother who doesn’t like to shop.”

Every day leading up to Christmas I’d open the mailbox I’d see another beautiful card from friends and neighbors near and far. I’d imagine the comments from people who didn’t see our picture card in their box and feel worse thinking about all those friends of my parents who would say something about not receiving any cards this year, or worse, those people who’d cross our name off their mailing list because they didn’t get a Christmas card from us this year – “Ah, one less card to send,” they’d say.

Yesterday, I’d finally gotten rid of my guilt over not sending out greeting cards for the first time in 13 years of marriage, or over the fact that for all the major holidays in December we ate in front of the t.v. with paper plates on our laps deciding what we’d watch on t.v. The holidays are over and it’s time to face the New Year.

At dinner last night, we discussed the New Year. My eight year old daughter, Natalie, reminded us all that the Mayans predicted that 2012 would be the end of the world. I told her that I generally don't worry about predictions made by people who are now extinct. (If they were so good at predictions, why didn’t they see that coming?) My husband jokingly suggested he’d try to start them up again, see if the Mayans could get a deal like the Native Americans and get their own casinos. Fiscally, not a bad idea, but practically, pretty offensive and rather implausible. Nicole, my eleven year old, was concerned about the exact date on which the world was supposed to end (according to the now distinct Mayans). We couldn’t remember if it was December 12th, which would be 12/12/12 (which would be kind of cool), or if it was December 21st, which would make sense because it is the solstice. After a few minutes of trying to determine which would be the best date for the end the world, Natalie, who has been worried about this Mayan prediction for almost a year now, reminded me that we’d have to serve quesadillas to commemorate it. “They always serve quesadillas when the world’s about to end,” she said…where does she get these ideas??? Then we spent another few minutes trying to decide which date would be a better day to have an end of the world party, 12/12 or 12/21. Either way, you know the best part about throwing an end of the world party? You don’t have to clean up afterwards. Happy New Year!