May 18, 2013

And then I got Mom-Homework-Bombed. Learning to say No Thank You.

Friday evening I was exhausted.  I'd spent the week working away, cooked dinner as many nights as I could - 4. (Which is at least 3 more than the old city girl me would) and was finally getting around to finishing the unpacking, laundry and dealing with other minutia left over from our trip to Palm Springs.

I had just come home from scouring Target for a Mrs. Potato Head (last minute birthday party) and then immediately got back to work editing photos and making dinner yet again.  Which is precisely when I noticed the mom-homework-bomb that came home in Kayla's bag.  Here's what it said:


Okay, I love Ms. Candy I REALLY do.  However, my gut reaction was "You're freaking kidding me!"  Which obviously made Craig interested enough to come over and peek at this suspicious document getting a rise out of his wife.  His reaction "What the heck do they want us to bring to school for THAT?" 

After a 15 second pause I said "Honestly I can't think of anything that starts with X other than xanathan gum and last I checked that's some food additive."  At which point Craig said "I guess you can serve them x-ray fish." Which is an ongoing joke in this house because anyone who has ever purchased the Fisher Price Little People Zoo knows that for the letter X they somehow came up with x-ray fish.  Same with the Leapfrog Letter Ball.  WHY?  Because X is really just a ridiculous and impossible letter when it comes to most practical applications in life. 

Feeling like maybe my brain was fried from the week and there must be some X-food I was overlooking because I wouldn't be surprised if the teacher assigned that to me knowing I'm that mom who will always find a way, I turned to social media.  Posting that photo to Facebook I wrote this: 

"Like a cruel joke. Before I be "that mom" who calls school demanding a new letter tell me if there is an X food I'm not thinking of other than a nasty additive..."

The first response I got was from a girl I went to school with growing up. "Xanax."  Quite possibly my solution!  I'm pretty sure she was talking about the kids, but why not drug the teacher who would probably welcome it in a classroom filled with 4 year olds the day before memorial day weekend.  

The next was a fellow mom blogger friend who generously offered up some outlandish rare sounding grape for wine making that started with X and probably only exists in a fancy food market near wine country and not on the shelves of Trader Joes.  

Why?  Because apparently our line of work naturally leads us to come up with freakish solutions to things.  You need that plastic yogurt tub repurposed into a fully functioning toy submarine?  Don't call an engineer - just ask a blogger.  They'll no doubt have ten ways to do it and make it look pretty.  

Then came a slew of friends suggesting I bring food in the shape of an X or that can be made into an X.    A reasonable solution but actually not what the letter was asking for.  Sadly.

This was the exact moment that I heard the voice of Tiffany Romero whispering in the back of my head saying "It's okay to say no thank you."  Whoa.  Where did she come from?  

A couple of weeks ago I headed to Arkansas.  Yup, this girl right here went to Arkansas...and loved it.    I even said y'all a few times upon coming home.   I may also have called my husband and told him I'd found a nice neighborhood on a golf course for us to relocate to at a fraction of the cost of coastal San Diego real estate and been at least 85% serious.  But that's a story for another day.  

Anyway, while I was there I attended a conference called SoFabCon put on by a company I do a lot of work with called Collective Bias.  Tiffany was speaking there and I was semi-familiar with her.  We are in a San Diego blogger group together but I don't chat a lot in it so we'd never actually come in contact with one another.   

Her keynote address was about powering down.  Finding balance in life (HA!) making time to make sure you accomplish your goals, learning how many goals are realistic to have at a time, and learning to be present when you're with your family.  For example, not spending the time you're supposed to be watching your child play a sport on the phone dealing with a work situation or in my case responding to emails that seem to multiply like gremlins every time I look away from my phone.  

The thing that resonated with me the most while also being SUCH a foreign concept was when she said "It's okay to say no thank you."  What?  It is? Even when it comes to things at school. Mind blown!  I don't know why I needed to hear it from another adult, but apparently I did.

Have you ever been guilted or guilted yourself into volunteering to do things at school?  I know I have.  Mostly I blame myself - I volunteer frequently.  More frequently than I probably should.  Need a chaperone?  Sure!  I have a "flexible" work schedule so I guess I'll head to (insert ridiculous less than ideal destination here) with several other people's children in my care.  Yay! I'll also make sure my SUV is fortified with healthy snacks, extra bottles of water and non-toxic sunscreen for those kids whose parents forgot that stuff.  

Baked goods for the school Halloween party - of course!  I volunteer every single time there is a class party to bring at least one thing if not a few.  And I usually pick the most unhealthy thing the teacher requests so I can go out and health-ify it because apparently I'm a control freak like that.  Does any of this sound familiar?  If it does we can either be friends or go to the looney bin together where we'll probably wind up friends anyway.  

I don't know why I do this stuff.  I mean I do - it's because I care.  I care about Kayla's school and her teachers all of whom are very nice and therefore I feel it's my duty to always be involved and available. But this X thing - it made me realize that the old me (that would be pre-child Jillian) would have let out a string of words I no longer say, at least near tiny ears followed by an "I don't have time for this craziness" and moved on.  

So why should now be any different?  I'm afraid to be the difficult mom?  The mom who needs a new letter?  The mom who ruined the alphabet for a bunch of 4 year olds? Seriously I'm cracking up just reading this as I write it.  

No Thank You.  That's right.  For quite possibly the first time ever I'll be saying no thank you followed by the fact that I'm happy to bring something for a more realistic letter.  The 4 year olds can learn that they will probably not eat too many snacks that are comprised of something that starts with X unless their parents relocate them to a vineyard.  

And I'm happy to say I can sleep knowing that they will all likely go on to lead happy, healthy lives and grow up to be citizens that contribute to society.  Despite being denied the letter X...  AND that I was not the mom who freaked out (that much) and started frantically making things in the shape of X's or hunting down rare grapes so I didn't get mom-guilted.  

Lesson learned.  Little kids aren't the only ones who need to learn to say no thank you.  We big girls do too. 
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