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Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on April 17th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 6 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 6

Right where I belong

Sometimes a travelling circus is your clique

BY SHELLY CONE

With so much going on in the world, it’s amazing how we sometimes worry most about the smallest things. I was reminded of this recently. As Ron and I discussed politics and the likelihood of a psycho’s missile trajectory reaching the mainland United States, my kids had more important things on their minds.

I’ll change the true subject of the conversation to protect the innocent, but it went something like this:

Sixth grade son to his 5th grade brother: “So why am I hearing that you told all the 5th graders that I like peanut butter and jelly?”

Fifth-grade son: “I never said that.”

Sixth-grade son: “Then what, all the 5th-graders are lying?”

Fifth-grade son: “No. I only said that because this kid in my class said that I liked ham sandwiches. So I told him, ‘Well at least I don’t like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, like my brother.’”

Trust me, even if I had left the actual subject of what they were talking about intact, it wouldn’t make sense, but the things said were fighting words in their minds. It was an affront to pride, a hit to one another’s existence. It was a missile threatening to shatter their respective levels of coolness.

I guess it’s human nature to want to fit it in. At times, the need to belong wanes, and then there are the times when it’s amplified. Like when you become a parent. At least for me, there are times when I see other adults and families as poised and sane in comparison to my own travelling circus.

Occasionally, there are moments when I feel like I’m winning. Like when my little guy tells me in his loud-enough-for-everyone to hear voice, “Mommy do you know how much I love you? To the sky.” But then with the next breath he quickly picks up his action figures and punctuates that sweet moment with “Die, Batman! Die!” as he knocks his Superman and Batman action figures together.

Right now, I’m going through that puberty-like phase called “parenthood” that makes you feel a little out of place in adult society for a while. Not necessarily because you have kids, but because you neglect the focus on you and forget to be you, resulting in a dorkier version of you. Like someone is always telling others you like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and you just want to scream “Nuh-uh! I don’t!”

That’s why, on a recent vacation, I was relieved it would be nothing but eight days by the pool. I can handle a bathing suit, sun, and water and still feel like I fit in with other grownups, I thought.

Enter the college track-and-field athletics team headed for Nationals from one of those Midwest states that grows corn and tall, brawny, blond people. And while I don’t necessarily need the acceptance of people like that, I also don’t want to come across as a frumpy mom.

I realized I’m not a frumpy mom; I’m just an awkward dweeb. It’s not all in my head, either, as evidenced by the series of embarrassing events about to unfold. I headed to the pool with kids in tow and pulled off my jeans—and the pair of my panties that had stowed away in the pant leg flew out of their hiding spot to land at the edge of the pool, just missing the face of an Indian boy who was playing there.

He shouted something in his native language, which I believe translated to, “Ma’am, your panties are wet,” for all to hear. As the boy continued to repeat himself, I pretended not to notice, but he just got louder, so I slyly walked over, dropped a shirt, and picked up both items of clothing. The Norse track and field team just stared blankly.

When I got the courage, I swam laps until my arms were about to fall off, and then I rested in the sun. On the way back to the room I gathered the kids, and as I passed cross-country running’s duo of She-Ra and Supergirl, I smiled and nodded my head in acknowledgment. They merely looked at me quizzically. Were they being catty? I mean, I’m old enough to be their mom.

Before I could figure it out, Sebastian dropped to his knees and refused to walk any further. He insisted I carry him up the three flights of stairs. Because I lost my superpowers about a decade ago, I insisted he walk himself. When he refused, I walked a little ahead and hid behind a corner, where I could watch what he’d do—which should have been give in and follow me.

My plan backfired. He began to cry and shout: “Oh my God, my feet are bleeding! I can’t walk. I hate dreidels!” (A side note of explanation: I’m not sure why he turned his anger on dreidels or what they had to do with swimming pools, but when quizzed later, he clearly knew that a dreidel is a spinning top played with at Hanukkah.)

He had scraped his tender 4-year-old feet on the rough bottom of the pool, and his toes were bleeding. Now the entire complex knew it. The Midwestern collegiate League of Superheroes gathered around before I could get to him and swoop him up the stairs. They stared at me in confusion.

After I bandaged his feet, I headed into the bathroom to change and noticed why I got some weird stares. I looked like a crazy woman. My curly hair grew three times its normal size in the water, and I had forgotten to wash off my makeup before my swim and now looked like Alice Cooper—a scary rocker from the “olden days.”

I was the crazy lady with wild frizzy hair and black scary makeup streaking down her face, who dropped her panties at the pool and abandoned her dreidel-hating child with bloody feet at the foot of the stairs.

Later—sad, tired, and clean—Ron, the kids, and I ate popcorn and argued about who is the greatest musician of all time, discussed the nuances of the Avatar: The Last Air Bender storyline, the goal of the Plants vs. Zombies video game, and were thankful that no matter what happens outside our circle, we have our own clique in which we’ll always fit.

Contributor Shelly Cone amazes! Astounds! Contact her via the executive editor at rmiller@newtimesslo.com.