Saturday, January 30, 2016

Feeling Loopy

It's funny. I often get into these intellectual thought-loops where ideas buzz through my head, moving from one connection to the next. One idea to the next. Until it all comes back around to a thought I had days or even weeks earlier. Sometimes years earlier.

I was having an argument (as I often do) with Tyler about intelligence and whether or not the measurement of IQ was any indicator of real ability. How being "smart" is no guarantee to being "successful". He pointed at me and said "Look at you. You have a high IQ and you're just sitting there. If you're so smart, why aren't you rich or successful?"  Yeah. He blows my mind on a regular basis. How do you respond to that? How do you take the weight and summation of a life half-lived (if you assume I am middle-aged at this point) and condense that into a couple sentences that will explain to an attention-lacking teen all the reasons (excuses?) as to why my life doesn't measure up to his standards.

I don't feel like a useless failure, most of the time, until I talk with my teen boy. Heh. Maybe I'll just print out this article for him to read. I can pretty much track back the places in my life where I was derailed to an early age.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Odd Things Come to Mind...

I haven't done a stroll down memory lane post in a long while. The brain tends to focus on getting through the day and time to just let thoughts drift isn't available. I did have a funny memory come to mind the other day when I was talking with Max about growing up in the 1970s.

In the early 70's, my family relocated, once again, to Massachusetts and eventually we bought a house in Bedford. It was a quaint little town with many old colonial influences and a crap ton of history. We were in a newer neighborhood (at that time) on the outskirts of town. All houses, no businesses. It was 10 minutes, by car, to the nearest strip mall, and our new town had a few of those.

In my many attempts to impress on my spendthrift son the joys of saving money, I mentioned that my brother and I also received a weekly allowance, but 25 or 50 cents a week didn't really go far in most places. There was the Ye Olde Bedford Country Store just off the main drag that had a great assortment of penny candy (I think it's a chiropractor's office now, sadly) but if you could reign in the urge to spend for a couple weeks, the place to go was Bowen's Toy Store.

This particular strip mall I am remembering had a number of different businesses, but the ones I remember best were Bowen's and RuthAnn's (a drug store). Years later my favorite Italian restaurant also opened in that mall, right across from where Bowen's used to be. I miss their chocolate mousse cake.

Back to Bowen's. You had to have at least a dollar to get anything good in that store, unless you were happy with the junk in the gumball machines. I did luck out with some pretty cool rings with big fake gemstones. I think that is also where I got my mood ring, but that machine was one of the 50 or 75 cent ones. Every now and then, when the stars aligned, my brother and I would have enough money to get something REALLY good. A personal favorite was:

SuperElasticBubblePlastic! Yeah. You had to say it all in one breath as one word. Ha! I loved this stuff. You'd squeeze out a small wad, stick it at the end of this short and sturdy straw and blow into the other end. They were like bubbles that lasted for the whole day. Not quite as sturdy as a balloon, but they didn't pop as easily as a soap bubble. Somewhere in between. Like a super light-weight beach ball.

Plus that plastic gunk smelled like a cross between gasoline, model glue and magic markers. I'll bet sniffing it was really bad for you, but it was hard to resist.

A tube of this could keep me entertained all day long. I had fun explaining this stuff to Max. Naturally, he wanted some. Explaining why they don't make it anymore was difficult. The wiki said something about noxious fumes. I can believe it.

Then there was that one Sunday, after church, when my Mom needed something at the drug store, so, naturally, my brother and I begged and pleaded to be allowed to visit Bowen's again. My Dad must have been in a particularly good mood on this particular Sunday, because not only did he allow us to browse the store while my Mom was doing her errand, he also allowed us to buy some of THIS:

Now Crazy Foam is really glorified shaving cream. It was meant to be used in the bathtub or shower as a funky and fun way to lather up. Much more fun that your standard bar of ivory soap! (This was before the days of shower gel.)

But how do you play with this stuff on a hot summer day when your parents have no interest in running you a bath?

Once we got home, Dad said (and I quote) "It's just soap. Go ahead and play with it in the backseat of the car. It could probably do with a good washing."

Yeah. I don't think Dad had any clue what 2 kids and 2 brand new cans of Crazy Foam could do.

Remember that episode of The Brady Bunch when Bobby put too much laundry soap into the machine? Yep. It was just like that in the backseat of the car. Now, my Dad had a temper. My brother and I had a total blast covering each other and the seat in soapy foam. It...was...awesome! It was also navy blue vinyl seats on a hot day in August, so after a while, we were done playing. Then we looked at the aftermath and were trying to come up with a way to diffuse the atom bomb (aka Dad) when the garage door went up. *gulp*

My brother and I were both talking at once. My Dad turned a bit red for a moment and said "just go get the hose." After that, it was back to squeals of fun as Dad turned the ice cold hose on us both and rinsed out the back seat too. He didn't say a word about the mess and I don't think he told our mother either. We were running around the car, squealing and getting sprayed. So much fun. I am still amazed that my Dad kept his cool. He never kept his cool. Never. Which is why, I think, the memory is such a strong one for me.

Maybe he realized that the whole mess was his idea in the first place. He was the one who told us to go ahead and play in the car. Rational explanation, eh? But Dad was not known for being super rational when he was mad.

Maybe he saw the humor in it. Both his kids covered in soapy foam from head to toe and the car full of foam up to our waists. It must have looked hilarious! I'll never know. I think I'm the only one who remembers this incident. It was a good day.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Gender Fluid

Happy New Year! Had an interesting discussion with my youngest boy.

Max ripped a giant hole in his favorite performance wear pants today at gym. I told him he had to wear the new royal blue pair Santa brought or I could get him another in black because there was no way he was going to wear leggings with giants holes in them. I had to go through the whole speech my mother used to give us about not letting her children leave the house looking like hobos. He countered with "but all my friends wear jeans and stuff with holes in it. On PURPOSE. It's fashion, Mom!"  *le sigh* But he did eventually agree to a new pair in black.  On Amazon, I see they are having a winter coat/jacket sale too. "Max, do you need a new winter coat?"

Max: Yeah. I want to get a pink one.

Me: Um...what? Did you say pink?

Max: Yeah. Pink. You got a problem with that?!

Me: No, no. I just wanted to be sure I heard you correctly. Are you sure you want a pink coat?

Max: Is there something wrong with a boy wearing pink, Mom? Are you being sexist? Colors are for everyone. I can wear pink if I want to.

Me: Oh I agree! I'm happy to get you a pink coat, if that's what you really want. I just worry that other kids might give you a hard time about it. I think you should be able to wear any color you like. But there are still too many people stuck in the mindset that "pink is for girls."

Max: I want to be a pretty pretty princess. And I don't care what other people think. I want a new shirt too. One that sparkles. Boys should be allowed to wear pink AND sparkles.

Me [now pretty sure he is messing with me, but he seems dead serious]:  OK. Let's see what Amazon has...

We find a pretty coat in a pinky-purple shade and he says YES! Add that one to the cart! I'm wavering. It has faux fur around the hood. Then I spot a cool looking Under Armour hoodie in pink and black. "Oooh! Look Max. Pink and it's Under Armour too!"  That gets him off on a tangent and he finally settles on a hoodie with matching pants in lovely shade of aqua. I'm thinking we've dodged a bullet, but no.

Max: OK. Now go back to the page with that coat. I still want to be a pretty pretty princess. I can totally pull it off, Mom. Why are girls clothes so much cooler than boys? Most boy stuff is ugly. Oooh! What's that! *points to the screen*

Me: Uh. It's a lace shrug.

Max: See? Do they have stuff like that for boys? No.

Me: Well... I might be able to find you a cute bolero jacket or something...

Max: OK! I want one of those. With sparkles. Mom? Am I gender fluid? I want to show everyone...I want to...everyone can wear what ever they want. It's ok.

I nod and smile. I get it. He wants to break the mold. Be outside the fashion box. Trendsetter, if you will. He might not have all the buzz words down (and don't ask me where he got the term "gender fluid" from...I suspect that's from his big brother who is constantly accusing him of being and acting "gay". I know that's a teen boy thing and it's how all his friends talk. But I still get disappointed when I hear it. I just wish other parents would discourage that nonsense the way we do. "That's so gay!" is like the worst insult in the world to them. They, almost all those boys, are so homophobic at this age. Their hormones are out of control and they are just figuring things out, but GAY is not the worst thing in the world. *grumbles*

Anywho, Max finally cracked a grin and told me he was messing me on the whole pretty pretty princess thing. He didn't really want the pink coat. But he'd totally wear it if I got it for him. Just because. And he'd be proud about it too.

Now I have to find him jeans with holes and something sparkly to wear. He WAS serious about that part. *grin*